Matt Levine: Money Stuff

Matt Levine: Money Stuff

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Today’s guest is Matt Levine, a columnist at Bloomberg covering finance, Wall Street and the broader business world. Before blogging, Matt spent four years as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, structuring and marketing corporate equity derivatives. Before that, he worked as a mergers & acquisitions lawyer and a high school latin teacher. He’s also a graduate of both Harvard and Yale Law School. Matt’s newsletter, Money Stuff is always fresh and I admire Matt’s ability to discuss complex topics in fresh and engaging ways.

In this episode, we talk about Matt's career shift from banking to blogging — from Goldman Sachs, huge and famous, to DealBreaker, teeny and scrappy. Matt shares the ideas that have shaped his worldview and his process for writing. We talk about the books that have influenced him the most, both inside and outside the financial sphere. I particularly enjoyed learning about the Iliad.

“The tech startups are like the great laboratories for these questions now because what has happened weirdly is that the people with the best tech startup ideas have what seems to be enormous leverage over the people with the money.”


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Show Topics

1:00 - Introduction to the episode and a bit of background info on Matt.

2:32 - Matt detailing his financial background, his general background, and where he comes from.

4:19 - How Matt got into classics, a bit on his experiences in college, and his job out of college.

7:00 - The books that have shaped Matt’s perspective and worldview the most and bit on what took him into the world of finance, marketing, and accounting. Also, what some of his experiences were in that field.

11:21 - The aspect of puzzles in these fields of M&A and Matt detailing his journey from investment banking to blogging.

13:40 - How Matt’s day is structured to write, read, do deep work, and not be exhausted afterward. Also, a bit on Matt’s way of writing and learning.

15:55 - Matt detailing how he has learned to easily sift through a lot of the false information that’s commonly found and find true information. Discussion about the reality of financial investing that’s commonly mis-portrayed in the media.

20:14 - Which sorts ideas and life experiences beyond the bank that come up all the time that have been foundational for Matt’s way of approaching the world. Some discussion on law in general, lawyers, and contracts.

“You get a certain amount of legal realism baked into you in law school I think and a certain amount of skepticism about the magic functions and words in contracts.”

24:59 - Matt’s partial background in academic finance and how this has helped him understand more in the field of investing. Discussion on shareholders, share buy-backs, and running companies.

“The tech startups are like the great laboratories for these questions now because what has happened weirdly is that the people with the best tech startup ideas have what seems to be enormous leverage over the people with the money.”

31:44 - The people that have influenced Matt the most and some discussion on how blogging has changed over the years.

35:30 - What some of the main goals are that Matt tries to accomplish everyday and a bit on the writing that he does.  

37:49 - Topics and things that Matt finds the most fascinating to write about and figure out. Discussion on shareholders, index funds, writing, and investing.


Hey again, it’s David here one more time. You can support the North Star Podcast by leaving us a review on iTunes. Or you can share the podcast on Twitter or Facebook.

To listen to other episodes or learn more about the North Star, you can connect with me directly at perell.com and you can always reach out on Twitter at david_perell. And if you enjoyed this episode, you’ll like the episode with Tyler Cowen, another columnist at Bloomberg who writes about economics and culture. In the podcast, Tyler shares counterintuitive insights on travel, the millennial generation, and how he thinks about the future. Thanks again for listening.