"Companies Are Worse Than You Think," Says Icahn

Friday, 19 Sep 2008 | 6:48 PM ET

Carl Icahn is angry and when the Queens-born billionaire gets angry, he also gets rich.

From his infamous fight to break up RJR Nabisco to his current tussle with Yahoo! , the world's most famous capitalist has amassed his fortune by punishing the actions of greedy, incompetent CEOs and unlocking value for shareholders in the process.

He's angry now because in his 47 years on Wall Street he's never seen wealth destroyed on a scale quite like this. The financial meltdown this month could have been prevented, he says.

Icahn: How We Got Here
Discussing shareholder rights and Wall Street compensation, with Carl Icahn, billionaire investor and the Fast Money traders.

Old-boy boards of financial firms collected checks and cozied up to CEOs while their companies took on greater and greater risks with no oversight. The result is the economic disarray and huge job losses unfolding before our very eyes.

“Companies are much worse than you think,” says Carl Icahn on Fast Money. I go to these board meetings and I don’t have to watch Saturday Night Live anymore because they’re so crazy. The boards are completely out of it.”

In other words ineptitude has led to company’s taking excessive risk. It’s a situation Icahn would find laughable, except the consequences are not funny. Lehman Brothers might be the quintessential example, “I know CEO Dick Fuld. How they heck did that guy get paid $17,000 an hour last year?”

Ichan feels that CEO’s have a lot in common with the guys who were president of the college fraternity. They were well liked but not particularly smart. Most were political animals afraid to be around smart guys who might show them up.

Well, those are the same guys who went to work in corporate America and as Ichan says, "eventually you end up with all morons running the company."

Icahn sure doesn't pull any punches.

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Trader disclosure: On Sept 19, 2008, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Macke Owns (MSFT), (WMT); Adami Owns (AGU), (BTU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE); Finerman Owns (GS); Finerman's Firm Owns (MSFT), (NOK); Finerman's Firm Owns (WFC) Puts; Finerman's Firm Owns (BIIB) Calls, (DNA) Calls; Finerman's Firm Is Short (BBT), (IYR), (IJR), (MDY), (SPY), (IWM); Najarian Owns (AAPL) And (AAPL) Collar; Najarian Owns (ETFC); Najarian Owns (NOK) And Is Short (NOK) Call; Najarian Owns (RIMM) Call Spread

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