01
Feb
05

Blodget’s Back and He’s Got a Reputation

Henry Blodget, the Merrill Lynch research analyst charged with securities fraud in 2001, resurfaced as a writer for Slate Magazine to cover the Martha Stewart trial last year (be sure to read his “detailed disclosure statement” where he begins by identifying his bias as a fellow Chief Executive Sleazebag . . . it’s incredibly comical). He went on to write a four-part series on the “Complete Guide to Wall Street Self-Defense” (again, the hilarious disclosure statement is worth the time alone!) and is now on the second of a very timely multi-part China Gold Rush series (with many other insightful pieces on the industry in between, including a great piece on his $20 windfall from the Google auction).

I had the opportunity to meet him briefly in 2000 when he was the hot panelist on one of CNET’s formerly-fabulous, now defunct News.com webcast series. This particular webcast brought industry experts together to discuss and debate the apex (and looming rapid descent) of “the internet stock.” Blodget made a name for himself in ’99 with the bullish prediction that Amazon’s stock would rise to $400 a share. Merrill hired him shortly thereafter to dust off their image with this clairvoyant internet-age poster boy. Several years later, he was banned from the brokerage industry altogether and became a different kind of poster boy. Despite the fact I am now biased by the humbled hindsight held forth in most of his writing, I still don’t buy the idea of Blodget an evil mastermind costing millions of citizens their life savings based on his “buy” recommendations; he’s really just a bit player, who was both created and destroyed by events and an era much bigger than he was.

I may not indulge Martha the same benevolence when she resurfaces, but hey, she was arrogant enough to plead innocent while Blodget took his $4MM beating and is out there earning an honest living as a not-so-clairvoyant (as it turns out) but brilliantly compassionate, intelligent and well, darned funny, investment journalist.

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