How Long Will Rick Wagoner Last?

Joe Nocera is taking to blogging like Steve Jobs took to turtlenecks:

“Rick has the unified support of the entire board to a person,” the company’s lead outside director, George M.C. Fisher, told Bill Vlasic of The Times in an interview Wednesday morning. “We are absolutely convinced we have the right team under Rick Wagoner’s leadership to get us through these difficult times and to a brighter future.”

To which the only appropriate response is: you gotta be kidding.

In the first two quarters of the year, G.M. lost more than $18 billion. Last year, the company lost $38.7 billion. In 2006, the loss was almost $2 billion. 2005: $8.6 billion. In other words, in the last three and a half years, General Motors has lost over $67 billion. Surely, this must be a world record for the most money ever lost under one chief executive.

Of course, when boards start declaring their unanimous support of a chief executive, that’s often the beginning of the end. I’d put Wagoner at Level 3 on Jack Flack’s five levels of CEO hell, moving rapidly to Level 4. Chances of him remaining another three and a half years? Very slim indeed, I’d say.

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