Carl Icahn Tells It Like It Is

Carl Icahn tells it like it is.

On the US Economy

“I’m not telling you that we’re not a great country. We have great assets. I just think it should be much stronger. You have a real problem in this country today. You have a major unemployment problem in this country. And frankly, I don’t really think this economy is growing all that quickly. I think it’s growing because (Ben) Bernanke keeps pumping money in and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but I am saying you can’t do that forever.”

On Media perception of activism:

“The reason guys like me I think are covered is because it’s fascinating that we do so well. You know, Why do you cover a winning athlete? I think it’s just that the success breeds the coverage, to some extent. But the real interesting thing is that even with that coverage – and some of that coverage, by the way, is not positive. I don’t have to tell you guys. A lot of the coverage that I get is certainly not positive. I mean, here, we are saying Apple should do a major buyback, which to me is self-evident and yet you get a lot of umbrage about that. How can you tell Apple what to do and all that stuff?”

On his legacy

Carl Icahn: “I haven’t really thought about it really that well. Be a real force in changing corporate governance because I know it sounds completely corny, I grew up as a poor kid from Queen’s. And I was lucky enough to get into Princeton because I did well on the college boards and I came from a tough neighborhood. No country in the world could have done as well as I did and you feel like you owe the country something. You’re giving back most of the money you made. But the real issue I think you could do to change this country and what is almost outrageous is the corporate governance is the pay. I mean, it is completely, totally reprehensible that a CEO makes 1,000 times what a worker makes and then he’s playing golf all day. I am not saying every CEO plays golf. And on top of that, the stock of his company has fallen and he’s still making a 1,000 times what the guy makes and when you finally get him out he gets a huge severance package. This is outrageous. There is no corporate governance. I think it’s time the big institutions start paying much more attention to what their obligation is. My legacy can be to change (the structure) somewhat. In some way, I’d like that to be my legacy.”

(Reuters Interview)