相田英男 投稿日:2020/03/04 23:49





Jack Welch Inflicted Great Damage on Corporate America
Joe Nocera, Bloomberg・March 3, 2020

(Bloomberg Opinion) — There are well-known people who are vilified during their careers only to seem heroic in retrospect. And then there are others who are lionized in their prime, and only later do we realize how harmful their actions truly were.
So it is with Jack Welch, who died on Sunday at the age of 84. I know we’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but his effect on American capitalism was too profound ― and too destructive ― to go unmentioned.

Before the 45-year-old Welch became General Electric Co.’s youngest chief executive officer ever in 1981, the company’s goal was to “simply grow faster than the economy,” according to Fortune magazine’s Geoffrey Colvin, one of journalism’s leading Welch observers. In the decade before Welch took over, GE’s shares had declined 25% ― yet its shareholders, who viewed the company’s dividend as their reward for owning the stock, were sanguine. Despite the stock’s poor performance, Reginald Jones, Welch’s predecessor, was still considered the most influential man in business. Even Wall Street didn’t make a fuss about the share price.
1981年に45歳のウェルチが、ゼネラルエレクトリック社の、最年少の最高経営責任者に就任するまで、同社の目標は「単純に経済よりも速く成長する」ことだった、と、ウェルチウォッチャーの代表者である、フォーチュン誌のジェオフレイ・コルビンは語る。 ウェルチがCEOを引き継ぐ前の10年の間、GEの株式は25%減少したが、同社の配当を株の保有に対する見返りだ、と、考えていたGE株主達は楽観的だった。株価の低いパフォーマンスにも関わらず、ウェルチの前任のCEOであるレジナルド・ジョーンズは、ビジネス界で最も影響力のある人物とみなされていた。ウォール街でさえも、株価について大騒ぎしなかった。

Under Welch, GE’s mission changed. Its new goal was to become “the world’s most valuable company.” Which is to say, he turned the focus of the company to its stock price. Everything became secondary to that. Corporate raiders like T. Boone Pickens and Carl Icahn may have been the first to call for companies to “maximize shareholder value,” but they were outsiders, knocking on corporate America’s door. Welch was the ultimate insider, and when he started to emphasize shareholder value, so did the entire American business culture.
ウェルチの下で、GEの使命は変わった。新しい目標は「世界で最も価値のある企業」になることだった。彼は会社の焦点を株価に向けた。それ以外のすべては二の次になった。 T.ブーン・ピケンズや、カール・アイカーン等の企業ライダー達が、最初に「株主価値の最大化」を、企業に要求したのかもしれない。しかし彼らは、アメリカ企業のドアを外からノックして入って来たアウトサイダーだった。ウェルチは究極のインサイダーだった。彼が株主価値を強調し始めたとき、アメリカのビジネス文化の全体がそうなり始めた。

Did he succeed? By the standard he set for himself, the answer is clearly yes. During Welch’s 20-year tenure, GE’s total return was about 5,200%, more than double that of the S&P 500 Index. Its revenue grew from $25 billion to $130 billion. Profits were up fivefold. For a while, GE was the world’s most valuable company. Welch became rich ― his severance alone was $417 million ― but so did many of GE’s top executives. Why? Because they made the bulk of their money not from their salary but from the stock options Welch heaped on them.
彼は成功したのか?彼が自分自身で設定した基準では、答えは明らかに「イエス」だ。ウェルチの20年間の在職期間中、GEの総収益は約5,200%で、S&P 500指数の2倍以上だった。収益は、250億ドルから1,300億ドルに増加した。利益は5倍に増加した。しばらくの間、GEは世界で最も価値のある企業だった。ウェルチは金持ちになった – 彼の退職金だけで4億1700万ドルだった- しかし、GEの他のトップエグゼクティブの多くも、皆そうだった。なぜか?彼らは大部分のお金を給料からではなく、ウェルチが積み上げたストックオプションから稼いだからだ。

Something that is often obscured about the rise of shareholder value is the degree to which it coincided with a roaring bull market. CEOs were praised for their brilliance when in truth they were simply lucky to be in the right place at the right time. This is especially obvious when you look at Welch’s track record. He took over GE 16 months before the 1980s bull market began in August 1982. During those 16 months, GE’s stock price fell 5%. And he retired six months after it ended in March 2000. Guess what? The stock dropped 24% before he left.
株主価値の上昇に関する議論でしばしば曖昧になるのは、かつてない程の盛況だった株式市場との一致の度合いについてだ。 CEO達がその輝ける手腕を称賛されたのは、実のところ、適切なタイミングで、適切な場所に、彼らがいたからだ。彼らは単に幸運だっただけなのだ。この事は、あなたがウェルチの実績を見れば、特に明白になる。彼は1982年8月に、1980年代の強気相場が始まる16か月前に、GEを引き継いだ。その(強気相場が始まるまでの)16か月の間に、GEの株価は5%下落した。そして、強気相場が終わった2000年3月から6か月の後に、彼はCEOから引退した。そこで何が起きたか?彼が去る前(の6か月の間)に、GE株価は24%下落したのだ。

Consider also how Welch kept GE’s stock up during his tenure. Yes, some of it was the result of good management - buying NBC at the right moment, for instance. But he also had an uncanny knack for beating analysts’ earnings estimates by a penny quarter after quarter. You can’t do that at a conglomerate the size of GE unless you are playing accounting games.

Second, Welch turned GE Capital, which had formerly been used to underwrite consumer loans for refrigerators and other GE appliances, into a black box from which Welch could extract whatever profit he needed to make his quarterly numbers. What’s worse, GE Capital began making the same kind of risky loans as the rest of Wall Street - loans that got the company into trouble when the financial crisis arrived. Luckily for Welch, he was long gone by then. His successor, Jeffrey Immelt, took the blame for essentially following Welch’s lead.

Here’s the key point: Because Welch was so idolized, the path he trod became the path every other CEO trod as well. They all began focusing on shareholder value. That became the basis on which they were judged and paid. And it warped the business culture, causing companies to put employees, vendors and even customers behind the primacy of shareholders. If you want to see what happens when you take maximizing shareholder value to its logical extreme, I give you Facebook. Or, for that matter, Enron.

You will hear a lot over the next 24 hours about what a business icon Welch was. “The gold standard of greatness,” Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale University business professor, described him for Bloomberg News’s obituary. Welch’s supporters will make the case that he was a great manager, that his focus on continual improvement imposed high standards and that he developed leaders who went on to run a half-dozen large corporations. There is some truth to that, for sure.

But remember this, too. When you see pharmaceutical companies raising the price of drugs to unconscionable levels; when companies cut back on research and development to satisfy Wall Street; when CEOs routinely make $40 million to $50 million a year, you now know whom to blame.
しかし、これも覚えておくことだ。 あなたが、製薬会社が薬の価格を途方もないレベルに引き上げているのを見たとき; 企業がウォール街を満足させるために研究開発を削減したとき、あるいは、CEOが年間4,000万から5,000万ドルの給料を、継続的に稼いでいるとき、誰がその責めを負うべきかを、あなたは今知っている、という事実を。


相田英男 拝