As SVB fails, Icahn says one of our major problems in this economy is there’s ‘no leadership on the corporate level’

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‘One of our major problems — I think, in this economy, right now — is there’s no leadership on the corporate level.’

— Carl Icahn

Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn had some harsh things to say about America’s corporate leadership during an interview with CNBC’s Closing Bell on Tuesday.

The sharp-tongued investor said he sees a lack of good management as a contributing factor to some of the problems facing the U.S. economy and U.S. companies. To be sure, taking a swipe at corporate leadership plays into Icahn’s business of rattling the C-suite at some of the companies in which he invests.

However, his comments come as investors have been gripped by the stunning unraveling of Silicon Valley Bank, a California lender to startups and other companies that was taken over by regulators last week, in a historic outflow of deposits. 

Poor portfolio management is being blamed, at least in part, for Silicon Valley Bank’s failure.

On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the situation, reported that the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission were investigating SVB’s demise.

SVB Financial CEO Greg Becker had been upbeat about the bank just days before it was taken over by regulators and put into receivership by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Critics say that the bank poorly managed its business of borrowing and lending and was saddled with a portfolio of longer-dated debt that had lost value because interest rates rose dramatically over the past year and the investments weren’t properly hedged.

SVB representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The probes into the bank may not result in any action.

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