This week, we speak with Bethany McLean, contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and author of Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron, which was later made into a documentary. Her most book is Saudi America: The Truth About Fracking and How It’s Changing the World.
McLean makes the surprising observation that the Great Financial Crisis led to the fracking boom. She notes that while the technology of horizontal drilling was a huge innovation, it did not become cost-effective until the Federal Reserve took rates down to zero, and kept them there for a decade. Indeed, the entire fracking boom would not have been possible with a huge amounts of extremely cheap capital.
She also discusses (see her Vanity Fair article) how Wells Fargo’s ethical corporate culture was replaced with an aggressive sales culture that ultimately collapsed.
She received a B.A. in English and mathematics from Williams College; calling herself a “numbers girl” she began at Goldman Sachs, then Fortune, and eventually a published author and documentary filmmaker. We also discuss how she learned to use short-sellers as sources for researching fraud.
Her favorite books are here; transcript of our conversation is posted here.
You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Bloomberg, Overcast, and Stitcher. Our earlier podcasts can all be found at iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, and Bloomberg.
Next week, with David Hall, partner at Rise of the Rest Seed Fund where he is responsible for investment sourcing, execution, and oversight for Revolution portfolio companies.
Bethany McLean’s Books
Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind
Saudi America: The Truth About Fracking and How It’s Changing the World by Bethany McLean
All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera
Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the U.S. Mortgage Giants by Bethany McLean
Bethany McLean’s Favorite Books
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien