Money Matters - Simplified

10 Things I Wish WikiLeaks Would Release

 Each morning, the world is greeted with new, fascinating, and potentially very dangerous disclosures on the WikiLeaks website. Abuzz with the possibility of what might be next and whose names might be exposed, politicos and plebeians alike are hooked.

 

 You might be pondering the legitimacy of the organization. But I'm curious about something else. What about all the stuff that really needs to be leaked that we're never going to hear about?

I've gathered a few stories from various walks of life whose mysteries continue to befuddle me. If WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange got a hold of these cables, I'd most certainly support their dissemination.

Wouldn't it be nice if we knew the answers to:

1. The Lehman Brothers/Bear Stearns story
Why did the government save one of these investment banking icons and let the other fail? In one case, the government essentially threw its hands up and said it was unable and unwilling to step in and stop a bank from failing. In the other, roughly six months before, the U.S. government proved it could do a hell of a lot to stop a bank from failing, as it helped arrange Bear Stearns' sale to JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM). What exactly was the thinking, and why were our elected officials playing favorites here?

2. Lance Armstrong and steroids
Without a doubt, Lance Armstrong is a phenomenal athlete, and winning the Tour de France as he did seven consecutive times is simply remarkable. However, if the use of performance-enhancing drugs is as widespread as it appears to be in cycling, then how could he possibly be as successful as he was without them? It seems that just about every other cyclist was using the drugs, and yet his tests were clean. Did he use them? If so, why was he so much better at beating the tests than everyone else?

3. The other Madoffs
So far, only three people have pleaded guilty for the largest theft in American history. Only one of them (Bernard) appears to have actually started serving his sentence. I refuse to believe that Madoff's wife and sons, as well as numerous others close to him (some of whomare, indeed, being very slowly implicated in the fraud) didn't know about this criminal entity long before they "turned him in." Who else knew, and why aren't they in jail right now?

4. The mysterious disappearance of Crystal Pepsi
Crystal Pepsi was a pretty awesome idea that came in with as much thunder as it disappeared with anonymity. The drink didn't sell badly -- in fact, it did quite well. People generally liked it. Why did execs at PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) can it so quickly?

5. 'Rogue' trader Jerome Kerviel
Kerviel managed to lose a whopping $7 billion of Societe Generale's money in a matter of days in 2008. Management at the company claims the guy went rogue. Kerviel claims that management knew of his behind-the-scenes activities and was OK with it since he was making tons of money doing it. Given the lax amount of oversight typically aimed at profitable individuals at banks of all kinds, I actually kinda believe the guy. What really happened here?

6. Our continued dependence on foreign oil
I'm not really against the use of oil as an energy source. I am, however, absolutely against the empowerment of all sorts of unsavory individuals and nations as a result of our continued dependence on the stuff. Given the abundance of legitimate and increasingly economic alternatives, why haven't we made a lot more progress toward owning our own energy future?

7. The epic collapse of AOL
I can't think of another business that went from being so incredibly important to so incredibly irrelevant as quickly as AOL did. The company could have easily written its own ticket with just one or two savvy decisions back in the day. Pride, arrogance, myopia, and stupidity are just some of the words that I would use to describe this company's decision making. Why, AOL, why?

8. Mars and Steven Spielberg
If a budding star director with a few massive hits already under his belt eagerly asks if he can prominently feature your product in his new film, it's probably something you should green-light. Unfortunately, candymaker Mars said "no" to putting M&Ms in the 1982 blockbuster ET, and so Spielberg instead hit up Hershey's (NYSE: HSY) to use its Reese's Pieces. Sales of the peanut-butter delight subsequently exploded. Man, I would love to be a fly on the wall in that meeting. Mars, please explain to me how that was not a no-brainer?

9. The embarrassing lack of college football playoffs
When the president of the United States declares on national television that he is fed up with your system, it's time to consider a change. Yet, the BCS is still alive and well with its perverse and notorious calculus. A playoff system is looooong overdue. NCAA, what the hell are you thinking?

10. The Steve Jobs dismissal
Of all the business-related mysteries that confuse me, this one is pretty much the most confusing. The guy's personality is not all that endearing, but Steve Jobs is undoubtedly one of the most visionary and accomplished individuals in American corporate history. Even before Jobs invented the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod, how could Apple's board (Nasdaq:AAPL) allow John Sculley to oust the guy? Why would you ever voluntarily get rid of your top talent?

So, there you have it -- 10 stories that I wish would be explained via WikiLeaks. Incidentally, we're just days away from a massive bundle of damning materials involving a major American bank, supposedly either Bank of America or Citigroup. No doubt it will be fascinating to see where that takes us. But what are yours? What mysteries of the world do you hope would be explained? Share below.

© 2010 UCLICK L.L.C.