To begin, I apologize for the audio quality of this episode, but I have fixed the audio problem in the next episode.
In Episode 16, I discuss how disconnected we have become from reality and how perception has come to rule everything around us. I cover the fascinating topics of the billionaire Malaysian fraudster Jho Low, who allegedly conned everyone from filmmaker Martin Scorcese, Australian model Miranda Kerr , White House officials, Goldman Sachs bankers, and even the Malaysian prime minister by gaining access to Malaysia’s sovereign wealth funds and misappropriating billions of dollars for personal use. Currently Low is suspected to be hiding out in mainland China, whith Chinese officials reluctant to extradite him back to Malaysia because of Low’s close relationships to very high level Chinese officials that could expose the Chinese officials to scandal should Low be extradited back to Malaysia and be forced to testify in court. In any event, many have claimed, including the author of the Jho Low’s biography, Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World, that Jho Low, who was the son of a millionaire, was only able to trick people into believing he was a billionaire by living a lavish lifestyle funded by a US$5B theft from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund after crafting a close relationship with the Malaysian Prime Minister. During this ride of well-documented public excess, Low gifted $9M worth of jewels to Australian model Miranda Kerr, who eventually was forced to return her ill-gotten trove of jewels,
At one point, Jho Low spent $700M he had funneled from the 1MDB sovereign Malaysian wealth fund into one of his own companies in just 8 months, buying a hotel in Los Angeles and the rest on a lavish lifestyle of alcohol, gambling, private jets and yachts, and paying celebrities to hang out with him. Low eventually diverted billions more to his own accounts which he spent on producing The Wolf of Wall Street and buying real estate, art work, hedge funds and luxury apartments. Jho Low’s spending spree seems to have been enabled by his close association to rich and powerful people around the world forged during his time at Wharton business school that included members of Middle Eastern royalty.
It’s always been odd to me why friendships with rich and powerful people automatically grant legitimacy to someone in the eyes of the public as if an association with a billionaire means that someone has integrity and honesty. In any event, Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos used the same modus operandus as Jho Low to con investors out of $700M in convincing investors she had developed a ground breaking technology that could use droplets of blood to supply full bloodwork and labwork to diagnose medical conditions. As it turned out, her entire company was fraudulent but Holmes was able to get many people to blindly trust her simply based upon her close friendship with Paypal founder and one of the original investors in Facebook, billionaire Peter Thiel.
Lastly, I discuss how perception is much more important than reality in keeping bubbles in stock markets, real estate markets and bond markets inflated and that is why these bubbles will crash particularly savagely when they deflate, as they have no fundamental foundation to keep them afloat.
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