Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. Then you win.” Holman Jenkins Jr.’s April 12 Business World column “Do Nudists Run Wall Street?” moves us to stage No. 3: It contains the normal amount of distortion I have come to expect from financial media, but as it also makes the first attempt to confront the right issue, it is a step forward. Bravo.
Mr. Jenkins claims that I “propound a theory” that Overstock’s “shares are grossly undervalued.” This is wrong: I have never lamented Overstock’s valuation nor connected it to the naked shorting issue. The “elaborate Webcasts . . . found at businessjive.com” cited by Mr. Jenkins never once mention Overstock. He provides no other citations, which is appropriate, as there are none. Last, the quote he attributes to me, “If I’m crazy, why am I running a public company?” is something I never said. I challenge Mr. Jenkins to produce this or any similar quote.
However, Mr. Jenkins correctly depicts me as a jihadi against naked shorting. I do believe blackguards have practiced “failure to deliver” (FTD) for profit, while incidentally destroying businesses and (probably) destabilizing our capital markets. I also think that if this nation ever grasps how its savings have been looted through this mechanism, a few million Americans are going to show up at the corner of Wall and Broad with pitchforks and nooses. Thus, financial journalists spin countless, “Just another CEO who’s mad at shorting” stories, of which Mr. Jenkins’s piece is an example.
Patrick M. Byrne
Salt Lake City