Sunday, May 16, 2010

Following Ackman: A Book Note

Bill Ackman is the protagonist of Christine Richard's new book, Confidence Game: How a Hedge Fund Manager Called Wall Street's Bluff. Ackman, the founder and managing partner of Pershing Square, even appears with her at at book signings.

I haven't read the book, but for the benefit of others such as myself who are curious about it, here is the link to what seems an informative review.

The book concerns the bond insurer MBIA, and portrays Ackman as the boy who saw and spoke to the nakedness of that particular emperor. Of course, he didn't do this because he was public spirited. He did it because a general public recognition of that nakedness would make him money. Still, he did it and was right.

This proves something of broad importance about speculation and its value in the broader economy. Speculation isn't the enemy. Speculators serve valuable functions, one of which is the ferreting out of information that managerial suits want to hide. When they're good at it, they deserve their monetary rewards. When they're bad at it, they quickly remove themselves from the marketplace.

Richard's book might be worth a read.

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