If you have an opinion on whether Carl Icahn or Bill Ackman got the better of today’s amazing CNBC shoutfest over Herbalife, you have a number of options for expressing it. We’ve had like four posts so, y’know, comment away, but if you want something more formal both CNBC and Business Insider have polls you can vote on. Also if you listen to CNBC’s video you can hear in the background a bunch of men who, when not oohing and ahhing over cursing on television, spend their days running around pretending to trade stocks. Don’t be fooled, though: you can actually trade stocks, even Herbalife’s. If Icahn-Ackmania changed your view of Ackman’s short thesis on Herbalife, feel free to express that changed view with money.
As of 4pm-ish, BI and CNBC both give Ackman the win. Mr. Market goes the other way, though without overwhelming enthusiasm.1
This makes sense – as a former high school debate judge I’d score this one for Ackman too. On style alone: Icahn apparently did his interview in a zen garden surrounded by a team of silent and efficient researchers; Icahn prepped by going to a Queens schoolyard and getting in fights.
But on substance, too. Icahn’s main claim, that shorting a company and then saying mean things about it is “manipulation” or otherwise bad form, is sort of crazy; Ackman’s zen researchers helped him point out that Icahn did just that at Ira Sohn in 2003. More important, though: how does Icahn’s “you can be short, but you can’t tell anyone” thesis – as he says, “If you’re short, you go short and hey, if it goes down you make money” – hold up when applied to long investing? Read more »
Or Becky Quick? Or Andrew Ross Sorkin? Joe Kernen? Jim Cramer? Because you think it would be a pleasant way to start the morning or, alternatively, a horrifying way sure to get you out of bed without delay? Now you can! Read more »
Maria Bartiromo: Tim Geithner apparently flagged the problem 5 years ago. Why didn’t he do more about this? He basically called the Bank of England and said he was worried about the approach in terms of Libor, that they needed to change it. Did he do enough?
Eliot Spitzer: Look I think it would be preemptory to say one way or the other. This is something that needs an awful lot of examination. I think the fact that he knew in ’07, sent a memo in ’08 is only the first layer of inquiry. Did he follow up on it? Libor, as everyone who watches CNBC knows, is the heart and soul, it is the blood stream of the financial system. If anyone is rigging it or playing games with it then you must follow up. Anybody who is in the regulatory position that Tim Geithner was in, in my view the most important bank regulatory position in the world, how do you not follow up and say wait a minute guys what have you done? So it’s unclear, and I hate to use this metaphor perhaps, but was this the sort of memo that was being sent at Penn State where you just kind of brush it aside or was it really an effort to do something?
MB: Oh god.
ES: This bears an awful lot of inquiry. Because it goes to the very real question of whether the NY Fed did not fulfill its fundamental function to ensure the soundest [and] security of the balance sheets of the banks all the way through the period leading up to the crisis. Is this one piece of evidence that runs contrary to that or one piece of evidence that supports it? We don’t know yet.
MB: What a comparison.
ES: Well let me tell you Maria, unfortunately when you see memos at the top being written like that, you never know, you have to ask the question, what preceded it, what came after it, otherwise you don’t understand the texture of what was being done by that senior person. Read more »
Although the Morgan Stanley’s handling of the social media site’s disastrous stock offering is under scrutiny by just about every business news outlet under the sun, a Wall Street insider tells us the investment banking’s corporate communications warriors are blaming CNBC for engaging in some pre-IPO hyping of their own. CNBC senior vice president and editor in chief Nik Deogun “is under fire,” says the source. “Morgan Stanley is telling him, ‘How dare you criticize us when you guys promoted this IPO worse than anybody.’ ” The source recalls examples of CNBC’s on-air exuberance in the days leading up to the IPO, including treating Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ’s entrance at the kick-off of the company’s investors road show at the Sheraton hotel in midtown as if it were “the President’s State of the Union Address” with multiple cameras and reporters. Then on May 17, the day before the actual IPO, the hosts of CNBC’s “Fast Money” appeared on camera wearing hoodies — a reference to Zuckerberg’s favorite fashion item, which came off like an homage to the baby billionaire. That same day, controversial “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer told his viewers, who tend to be mom-and-pop investors and market-playing college students, “If you can get in on the actual IPO, then I think Facebook is a no-brainer.” He added: “We all know this one’s going to pop like crazy on its first day of trading, so if you can get in on the deal, I think you should try to get your hands on as many shares as possible.”…CNBC spokesman Brian Steel said: “CNBC’s Facebook coverage has been widely acknowledged as fair, balanced and insightful.” [NYDN, related, related]