5 dumbest things on Wall Street

Starbucks supersizes its coffee. Goldman's Facebook missteps. Ener1 re-cracks the Chinese market. Toyota incurs the NFL's wrath.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 21, 2011 11:37AM

By TheStreet Staff, TheStreet


Here is this week's roundup of the dumbest actions in business.


5. UBS restyles its standards

Former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had a few rules about the appearance of his players, mainly no beards or shaggy hair. He wanted his boys to be clean cut. But he has nothing on UBS (UBS).

The Swiss bank has a more than 40-page tome detailing precisely how their employees should look, act and even eat when reporting for duty, according to the Associated Press. The helpful guide says underwear should be skin-colored and that employees shouldn't eat garlic or onions. It even offers makeup and perfume tips for women.

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4. Starbucks supersizes it

For all the talk Starbucks (SBUX) does about providing its customers a refined cafe experience, the company is taking some cues from the fast-food giants it claims to be above.


Starbucks seems to be embracing a new mantra: Why settle for a cup of joe when you can have bucket? The company has introduced the 31-ounce Trenta cup. Trenta, Italian for the number 30, will set customers back 50 cents more than if they purchased the next largest size, the Venti, which holds around 24 ounces.


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3. Ener1: Everything old is new again

It's fair to say that the biggest headline in business news this week was China, and there were plenty of coattail riders hoping that a fast boat to China would send their stocks higher.


Billions upon billions were doled out in historic U.S.-China trade deals to General Electric (GE) and Alcoa (AA), so it was clearly a week for cracking the Chinese market. For some less well-known U.S. brands, like lithium ion battery market player Ener1 (HEV), it was actually a week to re-crack a Chinese market it had already cracked six months ago, and watch its shares rise.


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2. Goldman's Facebook about-face

Goldman Sachs' (GS) mishandling of its Facebook relationship could almost be a "five dumbest" all by itself. The fact that Goldman won the right to invest in Facebook initially seemed like a coup, but there was always something peculiar about the pairing of the two companies.


Goldman is an intensely private institution, and Facebook is all about over-sharing. So why did Goldman make these missteps?


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1. NFL headbutts Toyota

Toyota (TM) incurred the NFL's wrath for running an ad during ESPN's Monday Night Football touting technology it developed with partners at Wake Forest University that could prevent football-related head injuries.

Because the Saatchi & Saatchi-produced ad contained an image of a helmet-to-helmet hit, however, Toyota told Reuters that the NFL complained to broadcast partners CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN, who brought the complaints to Toyota. Those complaints resulted in a quick cut of the offending image.


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