Jon Corzine to head Bank of America? Not likely -- and not wise

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Deposed New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine is the latest name to surface in the mad scramble to replace Bank of America Corp. (BAC) chief executive Kenneth Lewis. This would be among the more spectacularly bad ideas in the history of banking.

Corzine -- who told Bloomberg News that he has not spoken with B of A -- is the wrong candidate at the wrong time. Or, as a campaign commercial might put it: "Jon Corzine. Wrong for New Jersey. Wrong for Bank of America."
As his recent electoral defeat illustrated, his political skills proved deficient when he was faced with a formidable Republican candidate, U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, now the governor-elect of his state. Corzine's loss was all the more remarkable considering New Jersey's overwhelming blue-state tendencies; President Obama didn't even bother campaigning there much during the 2008 election season. It just wasn't necessary.

Banking in the Past -- and Future?

If Corzine wants to return to the financial world, he won't have an easy time of it. His career at Goldman Sachs (GS) reportedly ended in 1999 in part because he didn't get along with Henry Paulson, who became President Bush's secretary of the treasury. Moreover, heavy trading losses in 1998 caused Goldman's earnings to fall 80 percent. Corzine no doubt found solace after getting ousted in reaping some $400 million from the Goldman Sachs IPO.

The soon-to-be ex-governor reportedly says he doesn't think the Charlotte, North Carolina–based bank was in his future. Maybe he's fronting -- maybe he really wants the job, but thinks it's beneath him to apply -- but I doubt it. Political savvy will be a must for any Bank of America CEO, as are people skills -- which Corzine also lacks. He doesn't just have baggage. He has an entire luggage store.

Corzine's real future is as a cable TV talking head, according to CNBC's Charlie Gasparino, who should know about these things. Maybe Corzine should join forces with fellow ex-governor Elliot Spitzer of New York and host a show on MSNBC. The only question is who would be the straight man.
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