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Legal Fraud vs. Intellectual Fraud: The Growing Challenges Activist Short Sellers Face

Carson Block, CIO of Muddy Waters Capital LLC, joins Real Vision managing editor Ed Harrison to discuss the different forms that financial fraud can take in the corporate world, what happened with GameStop last week, and how changing market structure makes activist short selling increasingly more difficult. Block distinguishes between two types of fraud that corporations can commit—legal fraud and intellectual fraud—and explains how insidious and corrosive the latter type is for companies. Harrison and Block then consider why these companies committing intellectual fraud are not being held accountable and how that leads to decaying faith in public institutions. Block also provides his perspective on the short squeeze in GameStop from last week, exploring how initially a smart retail trade morphed into a different sort of animal. He touches on the financial plumbing occurring behind the scenes and whether it truly is efficient or not, and he shares how he sizes positions for shorts, the growing challenges activist short-sellers face, and his experience while investigating American Tower in 2013.