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EXTRAORDINARY ITEMS – Chairmen who are above par.

Sir John Banham, the chairman of Kingfisher and the author of this month’s Economic Analysis (see page 67), says that the role of the chairman is to “be invisible”: “When things go well, the great guys out there get the credit and when there is blame, you take that blame. That’s the deal.” (He hastens to add that he uses the word “guys” in its American, non-gender-specific sense.) So Banham must see Warren Buffett as a shining example to us all. As the second-richest man in America, Buffett does not make many mistakes, but he did once almost lose a packet on an investment in USAir bonds that went wrong. “It went right in the end,” he told a news conference recently. “I got lucky. I didn’t deserve to get lucky,” he added, “I deserved to get killed!” Or as one of his friends said: “Warren, if you’re so rich, why aren’t you smart?”

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