Goodbye, Eddie Lampert. We Hardly Knew Ye.

Last Updated Jan 27, 2008 5:35 PM EST

Well, it looks official. As I have warned previously in these pages, Eddie Lampert's wild experiment at Sears is coming to an end. Even the Wall Street Journal (on Wednesday Jan. 23) and now the New York Times (see this link, from Friday) agree that he does not know what he is doing. The hedge fund wunderkind, who in a different era earned kudos for taking a billion dollars a year out of his business in the way of personal compensation, is in competely over his head at Sears.

The heart of the problem is that $14 billion in market value has evaporated and all Eddie can do is to think of ways of financial re-engineering. You see, this is the whole point of the skepticism directed toward the private equity and hedge fund guys who have charged into real companies in an effort to fix them--they don't really have the expertise to know what they are doing, in the vast majority of cases.

Having failed to get the merchandizing right at Sears, now Eddie is trying to divide the company into five different operating units to "simplify the way its business lines are managed."

Sure. Hats off to Carol Levenson, a credit analyst at Gimme Credit, an independent research firm in Chicago, who said this about Eddie's realignment: "We can't avoid the cliche 'rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.' "

Eddie's annual meeting with his investors is coming up late next month in New York. He lost 26 percent of their money last year. It will be an interesting meeting, to put it mildly.