Sunday, November 16, 2008

Free Lunch at '21'; Dinner at Spago

Yes, that's right. For a limited time only, anything you can charge on the American Express card can be yours free for the taking.

Well, not free exactly, but certainly the next best thing. AMEX cardholders, the once privileged few the company called "members," can charge anything and everything on their cards directly to the account of the American taxpayer. A real "American express," so to speak. The American Express Company has decided it can't leave home without a $3.5 billion taxpayer subsidy, and the summer capitalists in the Bush administration have approved the deal.

Founded 150 years ago, with an instantly recognizable charge card first issued 50 years ago last month, American Express has drifted in recent years. Now, in addition to its too-ubiquitous travel cards with which it caters to the well-to-do and which historically have required payment of the entire balance each month, AMEX has $7.5 billion of sub-prime credit cards outstanding.

So today, even with earnings last year of more than $4 billion, $12 billion of net worth, a market cap in excess of $23 billion and a best friend and major shareholder named Warren Buffet, CEO Ken Chenault found the public trough too appealing and has sniffed with his corporate snout a bit of the public snort.

So eat, drink and be merry AMEX cardmembers, for tomorrow the tab goes to the schmucks who didn't.

1 comment:

NotClauswitz said...

AmEx used to be the ONE card that wouldn't carry over to another month - the fees were huge. Now it's my Costco card, but we don't carry any debt - it's paid in full each month, all our stuff is like that.