There isn't a lot of information available about famous short seller Carson Block’s personal life, like his wife, his home, and his net worth. One thing is for certain, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Block, the founder of the Muddy Waters Research hedge fund, was recently described as “volatile and sometimes venomous” by The New York Times. His history of exposing companies' fraudulent behavior has reportedly resulted in death threats, which is probably why he keeps his personal life under wraps.
Carson Block’s Muddy Waters firm investigates fraudulent practices.
Some say that Block and his firm have done a better job of policing Wall Street than the SEC. According to the Muddy Waters website, the firm does three types of research—business fraud, accounting fraud, and fundamental problems.
“We pride ourselves on assessing a company’s true worth, and being able to see through the opacity and hype that some managements create,” the website states.
The firm’s “activist campaigns” have led to numerous financial restatements by companies, six de-listings, and one indefinite trading suspension by securities regulators, over $100 million in restitution paid to investors, and over $50 million paid to regulators, Block states on his Forbes contributor page.
Carson Block has exposed several publicly traded Chinese companies.
Block is mostly known for his work in China. When he was in his 20s, he opened his first company, Love Box Self Storage, in Shanghai. The experience with that venture led him to co-authored the book, Doing Business in China for Dummies, in 2007. In the book, Block tells readers that they “may face some of the most brutal negotiations you’ve ever seen” in China.
Block made his mark on Wall Street in 2010 when his scathing report on the fraudulent business reporting and overstated revenue at Orient Paper caused shares of the company to plummet by 47 percent.
Over the years, Muddy Waters has taken aim at other publicly-traded Chinese companies including wastewater equipment designer Rino International, commercial forest plantation operator Sino-Forest, and food and agri-business company Olam International.
In 2011, Bloomberg Markets named Block one of the 50 Most Influential Thinkers. He has been featured in the movie The China Hustle and the book The Most Dangerous Trade: How Short Sellers Uncover Fraud, Keep Markets Honest, and Make and Lose Billions, by Richard Teitelbaum.
Carson Block changed his view on Tesla and Elon Musk.
Block is in the news again this week after sending a harsh letter out to investors. CNBC Squawk Box host Andrew Ross Sorkin called the letter a “doozy” during an Aug. 12 interview with Block.
In the interview, Block said that he decided to send the letter after he woke up one night in a panic about the future of interest rates.
“I had this realization, in order to decarbonize the economy, I think central banks within several years are going to make it their expressed policy to keep rates basically at zero to negative levels,” Block told CNBC. “When you’re a short seller, rates at these levels are not your friend.”
The idea of low-interest rates continuing into the future, however, has given Block a different perspective on Tesla and its founder Elon Musk, he admits. In the past, Block has been a harsh critic of Musk. But continued low-interest rates could enable success for Musk’s electric vehicle company.
“The reality is, Tesla has dragged the world’s major automotive manufacturers into taking electric vehicle design and production seriously,” Block said. “I don’t think he’s a particularly great human being, but he’s what drove most of this.”