Times are tough for famed equity analyst Meredith Whitney.
Whitney — who gained national attention during the financial crisis for correctly predicting that Citigroup would have to cut dividends due to capital concerns — is down to just one full-time staffer at her eponymous advisory firm.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported Meredith Whitney Advisory Group has lost half its clients in addition to shrinking from five full-time investment professionals to one in the past two years.
Just a few years ago Wall Street was hanging on her every word. Not anymore. Whitney’s new book “The Fate of the States: the New Geography of American Prosperity” calls that state municipal bonds are about to collapse, a prediction that has yet to materialise.
It may be a rough patch for Whitney, but once you know where she came from, you probably won’t count her out.
Meredith Whitney was a motivated and business-minded child from the start, and would wake up at 5am on weekends to deliver papers.
While in high school, she would dress the part of a young female Wall Street analyst, pearls and all. Whitney attended the all-girls Madeira boarding school and did a post grad year at the Lawrenceville school.
She graduated with honours from Brown in 1992 as a history major. Whitney claims the deciphering skills she developed in college allowed her to better understand and link movements in financial markets
She started her Wall Street career as a research analyst at Oppenheimer. Her boss was Steve Eisman, the pessimistic financier who predicted the subprime crisis
In 2005, she married the retired WWE wrestler John Layfield. They met while appearing on Fox News, and Layfield claims that Whitney was not very nice at the time
In October of 2007, Whitney shook Wall Street when she published a report claiming Citigroup was far too leveraged and had more real estate on its balance sheet than previously stated
Other Wall Street analysts downgraded Citigroup's stock following her report. A few days later, Citi's long-time CEO Charles Prince resigned amid growing capital concerns
And she began to analyse municipal finances. Her report in September of 2010, a 500 page analysis of the municipal finances of the 15 largest states, claimed that municipal bond defaults would be on the rise
Now, former employees are complaining about Whitney working from Bermuda during long weekends, according to the Wall Street Journal
But sources also told the Journal that Whitney continues to have impressive Wall Street relationships and largely does a good job evaluating the market. It remains to be seen if Whitney can get her firm back on track
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