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Forbes® Best Business Mistakes: How Today's Top Business Leaders Turned Missteps into Success by Bob Sellers

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Chapter 18. MEREDITH WHITNEY

Bank analyst, predicted mortgage problems and financial fallout

In 2009, on Time magazine's list of 100 "World's Most Influential People"

One of the Wall Street Journal's 50 Women to Watch

Meredith Whitney is disarming. She looks you straight in the eye and states her points so clearly and simply that the content is emphasized and the style of the delivery is minimized. You keep waiting for her to add a huge inflection to emphasize a point, something to match the impact of what she's saying. But with Meredith, it's the content that matters, not the show.

Which is not to say her words don't pack a punch; they do. Like when she made "the call" on October 31, 2007. As a bank analyst at Oppenheimer she predicted that Citigroup would raise capital, sell assets, or cut its dividend. The company's stock plummeted and the financial crisis ensued. It was almost as if she was the only analyst who had the guts to say, as the never-ending parade of financial institutions wreaked havoc on Wall Street and Main Street, "The emperor has no clothes!"

Her stock soared.

The New York Post has called her one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York City. In 2007 she was listed as the second best stock picker in the capital market industry on Forbes.com's "The Best Analysts: Stock Pickers." Her extremely bearish view on banks landed her on the cover of the August 18, 2008, issue of Fortune magazine. In October 2008, she was ranked as one of the Fortune 500's "50 Most Powerful ...

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