Jimmy Cayne also keeps a humidor under his desk. Photo Illustration: Corbis (Cayne), iStockphoto (Spliff)
Since sub-prime losses forced Merrill’s Lynch’s Stan O’Neal to step down earlier this week
, Street watchers have been sharpening their knives and turning a leery eye toward those other CEOs whose tenure has become questionable. Generally, we’re all for it. Bring the pain! But this morning’s rehashing of Bear Stearns CEO
Jimmy Cayne’s dubious behavior during last summer in the Wall Street Journal
left us confused. Sure, Cayne spent much of worst crisis in the firm’s 84-year-history on the links, and he’s a dick for firing his second-in-command for not being in the office during said crisis, even though the dude was with Cayne at the time
, at a bridge tournament in Nashville. But he seems generally well liked, and dare we say awesome? To wit:
Investment-firm chief Alexandra Lebenthal brought her 11-year-old son to visit Bear a few years back. She says she introduced him to Mr. Cayne, who pulled her aside and said, “That kid’s got a rotten handshake. He’s going nowhere in life.”
Attendees say Mr. Cayne has sometimes smoked marijuana at the end of the day during bridge tournaments. He also has used pot in more private settings, according to people who say they witnessed him doing so or participated with him.
At a time when the culture of finance is such that young associates are too uptight to grow facial hair for cancer, a 73-year-old pothead seems like something the Street can’t afford to lose. To paraphrase Geri Halliwell, our head says Jimmy Cayne must go, but our heart wants him to stay!
Bear CEO’s Handling of Crisis Raises Issues [WSJ]