First off, I’d like to thank Chuck Jaffe for a great chat about Dead Companies Walking on his MoneyLife podcast. I enjoyed it. You can listen to our conversation below (or, if you are reading this on email, you can download MoneyLife’s January 28, 2015 podcast on iTunes or by clicking here):
Now, back to blogging. I think I’ll write on a fun and uncontroversial topic that everyone can agree on. How about … American foreign policy in the Middle East?
No matter who is in office, or which party he (or she) belongs to, I always look forward to the State of the Union address. Even though I never got to attend the speech in person, watching it always reminds me of the summer I worked in Washington D.C. as an intern for the House Minority Leader.
My “office” that summer (actually a very small desk in a larger office) was just off the Capitol’s rotunda. I would arrive at 9 AM(-ish) every morning, write one page responses to constituent mail on issues ranging from gun control to NASA, and then continue to perform my duty as an (unpaid) civil servant at cocktail parties and other social events around town. It was a fun time, and it gave me a lot of respect for people who work in government. Politics aside, most of them–including President Obama–are decent human beings trying their best to do right by the country. They don’t always succeed, of course. Many of their policy initiatives are well-intentioned but misguided, which brings me to the tax reform proposals the President spoke about last night. One is a good idea that will only affect a select few. The other is a less-than-good idea that could affect a whole lot of folks.
My week in New York finished out nicely with an appearance this morning on Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo. We had a great conversation about performance in the hedge fund community, the state of the economy and the markets, and–of course–my book Dead Companies Walking.
Find the video below (or at this link if you are reading this on email.) I also had a good chat about the book and short-selling with TheStreet.com, which you can find here and Business Insider here.
Thank you again to everyone I met with this week and to everyone who has bought and read the book.
For those of you who tuned in to CNBC’s Closing Bell this afternoon to see me talk about my book, Dead Companies Walking, I’m afraid I didn’t get much of a chance to do so. I had a good time on the set and I thank the show’s producers for bringing me on, but to my surprise, they wanted me to weigh in on Google–one of the few publicly traded tech companies in the Bay Area I have never visited–and tell the world if the recent dip in its stock price means it is a dead company walking. (Spoiler Alert: No.)
They also moved my segment up an hour earlier than originally scheduled, so if you missed it, I apologize. You can watch a short clip of it below (or at this link if you’re reading this as an email).
There’s a good chance I will be doing another national television appearance later in the week. I will make sure to post the date and time once it is confirmed. Hopefully, I will get to talk about the book a little bit!
I realized in all the excitement with the release of my book this week that I haven’t taken a moment to wish everyone a Happy New Year!
I’d also like to thank everyone who has emailed me and left comments here and elsewhere complimenting the book*–not to mention the editors at Amazon who named it one of the Best Books of the Month and the folks who have written about it this past week like Bram de Haas at Seeking Alpha and Martin Zwilling at Forbes. My co-writer Jesse Powell and I worked hard on the book for several years and I’m quite proud of it, so it’s great to hear that people are appreciating what we produced.**
Okay, now back to blogging.
It’s the silly season in the financial world. Everybody and their uncle is going around like Carnac the Magnificent making all sorts of predictions about what 2015 will bring. Of course, nobody actually has a clue what’s going to happen ten minutes from now, let alone six or twelve months down the line. Our economy and our markets are so massive, so complex and dynamic, that only a fool or an egomaniac would offer his outlook and advice for the coming year.
That being said, here is my outlook and advice for 2015:
Last week it was widely reported that regulators slapped a $43.5 million fine on multiple investment banks for passing off overly positive research analysis on the now private retailer Toys R Us. They did this hoping to curry favor with the current owners of Toys so that the company might pick those Wall Street firms as bookrunners for a possible Toys initial public offering.
I was shocked to hear this. Not shocked because news broke that some purportedly objective research from Wall Street turned out to be bogus, but because that is news at all. By now, I figured everyone–and I mean everyone–knew that recommendations from Wall Street always have been and always will be skewed at best and flat-out misleading at worst.
I’ve been visiting companies in Silicon Valley for more than a quarter century. In that time, I’ve met with hundreds of entrepreneurs, executives and management teams there. To a person, they’ve all been bright and ambitious. The Valley has earned its reputation as a hotbed of creativity, innovation, and economic vitality. But let’s be frank, it’s also earned its reputation for building just as many manias and pipe dreams as viable products and services–and I think the time has come to rain on the region’s latest parade of groupthink, self-congratulation and irrational exuberance.