“I think this is a very important time for CEOs and leaders of industry to really show leadership,” Weill said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” “I think that actions always speak louder than words, and I think that a CEO that’s in there buying a lot of their stock … at a bad time …sends a good message, and I’d like to see that message coming from all of corporate America.”
Weill noted that some executives may currently be in “blackout periods” in advance of upcoming earnings reports, limiting their ability to buy and sell stock. But he said the Securities and Exchange Commission should consider waiving such rules during times of market turmoil.
“Somebody has to give them the ability to get out from their blackout rules at this point in time,” he said.
Weill, who left Citigroup as CEO in 2003 and retired as chairman in 2006, recalled Jamie Dimon’s decision in 2016 to buy 500,000 shares of JPMorgan Chase. Dimon’s actions came as global recession fears abound and as the bank’s own stock was falling.
As CEO of Citigroup in the late 1990s, Weill used the bank as the vehicle to shatter the rules of banking, helping turn Citi into a sprawling financial institution.
Weill’s comments came as the stock market continued to its tumultuous stretch due to growing concerns about the coronavirus’ economic impact. The S&P 500 at one point was down more than 7% and sat more than 30% below its record high set in February. The index closed down 5.2%.
While Weill said he thought individual executives should be buying up more stock, he complimented the nation’s largest banks for collectively agreeing to suspend share buybacks during the coronavirus crisis.
Weill said the joint action “sends the right message that they’re really concentrating on the strength of their balance sheet.”