Burke Koonce and John Fichthorn discuss the latest topics of interest in politics, financial markets, and the cultural forces that shape the world around us. In this episode, we are joined by financial journalist Scott Wapner, whose coverage on CNBC of the Herbalife battle and the personalities behind not only made it into Betting On Zero but set the standard for financial journalism for the next decade.
John, who is executive chairman of Maven, owner of TheStreet.com and other media properties, and Burke, who runs the Capitalism Maven site for TheStreet.com, have a long history together discussing markets, politics and contemporary subjects. These discussions sometimes get made into films such as Betting On Zero.
Scott’s book, When The Wolves Bite, about the Ackman versus Icahn element of the Herbalife saga, is wonderful. Through highly detailed reporting, the book gives the reader not just a fascinating account of a war between two powerful investors but compelling psychological portraits of both Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn.
Naturally, we were more familiar with Ackman and his narrative; learning more about Icahn and his background and personality was compelling reading indeed. Wapner’s account brought the battle to life again in vivid detail. Presumably, most people think of Scott as a television reporter—but he has serious writing chops too. If we have read better financial non-fiction recently, we do not remember when.
We spend about half the episode discussing the subject of the book and the film, then we turn to some events of the day such as GameStop and thematic investing. As you would expect, Scott has some fascinating insights. For example, can one imagine how Herbalife shares might have reacted had Ackman made his famed presentation today?
This is a fun and enlightening episode with one of the best financial reporters of our generation. We hope you enjoy it. We sure did.