How CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin Would Close the Wealth Gap - OZY | A Modern Media Company

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because he's one of the sharpest minds watching Wall Street.

By Eromo Egbejule

The pandemic, says Andrew Ross Sorkin, could be an opportunity. One of America’s most prominent business journalists for his perch at the New York Times and CNBC’s Squawk Box, Sorkin says the essential workers who are getting the country through the crisis are a stark reminder of who we all rely on. And that means higher taxes.

“I should be writing a check to the government today because I wasn’t on the front line. I got to sit at home,” Sorkin says on the latest episode of The Carlos Watson Show, hosted by OZY’s co-founder and CEO. Those higher taxes should apply to philanthropic donations of capital gains too, Sorkin argues. And he says the money could go to fund better educational and childcare opportunities for low-income Americans.

Sorkin’s economic prescriptions are derived from a career that’s now spanned a quarter century.

When there’s blood in the water, when it looks like everything’s terrible, you got to buy.

Andrew Ross Sorkin

He thought he’d end up a lawyer like his father or a media entrepreneur — not a writer. At 15, his supportive playwright mother would drive him around to other schools to distribute copies of the sports magazine he was publishing. To be able to sell more, he began religiously reading Stuart Elliott, the New York Times’ advertising columnist. Then he wrote Elliott a fan letter and asked to be his unpaid intern.

Eventually, despite being in high school, he was assigned a story about internet modems; Elliott and his mother helped edit the article and it ran the following Monday.

That was 1995, the springboard for a brilliant career spanning the wildly successful New York Times’s DealBook daily newsletter to the best-selling book Too Big to Fail that was adapted into an HBO special to the hit Showtime series Billions, which has amassed millions of fans across the globe.

Sorkin is keen to stress that passion and persistence matter more than talent and the value of visualizing dreams before they become reality. In 2010, he started thinking about making a TV show as he fell in love with The Wire and Breaking Bad; six years later, Billions premiered. Years ago, he thought of interviewing the pope; last year, it happened. But it’s another fan story from Sorkin’s childhood, of his Michael Jordan worship that best illustrates his audacity to dream of stardom. “I used to save money and beg my parents to get Jordans,” he says. “At one point, I got myself a knee brace and I used to wear that. I didn’t even have bad knees.”

By virtue of his position on Wall Street, Sorkin was one of those who got to have serial interviews with Donald Trump in his pre-presidential days, but he never saw the real estate businessman as anything more. He does see Nextdoor CEO Sariah Friar and Thasunda Brown Duckett, who runs JPMorgan Chase consumer banking, as the next names from Wall Street to go far, and he’s got a bullish feeling about Chinese payment company Ant Financial as it approaches a record-breaking IPO. “It’s going to be massive, massive beyond anything that you could imagine,” Sorkin says.

But how should you invest? Sorkin is blunt. “I hate to say it, when there’s blood in the water, when it looks like everything’s terrible, you got to buy, you got to buy, even though it feels terrible and you don’t want to do it,” he says. “And when everything seems great, you got to sell.”

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