Steve Eisman

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Steve Eisman
Steven Eisman

(1962-07-08) July 8, 1962 (age 60)
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BA)
Harvard Law School (JD)
Occupation(s)Managing Director and Portfolio Manager at Neuberger Berman
Known forBetting against subprime mortgages during the subprime mortgage crisis
SpouseValerie Feigen (m. 1989)

Steven Eisman (/ˈsmən/; born July 8, 1962) is an American businessman and investor known for having shorted collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), thereby profiting from the collapse of the US housing bubble in 2007–2008.

Early life, education, and family[edit]

Eisman grew up in New York City, where he attended Yeshiva schools. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating magna cum laude in 1984.[1] He then graduated from Harvard Law School with honors. His parents worked in finance; they were brokers for Oppenheimer. Eisman was unhappy with his work in law. His parents arranged a position for him at Oppenheimer working as an equity analyst. Oppenheimer's anti-nepotism rules required his parents to pay the first year of his salary.[2][3]

FrontPoint Partners[edit]

Eisman rose to fame betting against collateralized debt obligations at Greenwich, Connecticut-based FrontPoint Partners LLC, a unit of Morgan Stanley. By 2010, he managed more than $1 billion for FrontPoint, and gained prominence after being profiled by Michael Lewis in his book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. In the movie adaptation of Lewis' book, The Big Short, Eisman's name was changed to Mark Baum, and was portrayed by actor Steve Carell. He left FrontPoint Partners in 2011 amid investor withdrawals following an investigation of illegal insider trading by portfolio manager Chip Skowron.[4]

Emrys Partners[edit]

In 2012, Eisman founded Emrys Partners with $23 million in seed capital. The fund performed poorly in 2012, returning 3.6% and underperforming the market. It did better in 2013, returning 10.8% but still underperforming the market.[5][6] In July 2014, he announced that he was shutting down the fund, explaining his decision by stating that "making investment decisions by looking solely at the fundamentals of individual companies is no longer a viable investment philosophy." The fund controlled an estimated $185 million in assets at the time of its dissolution.[5] Emrys Partners stopped operating in mid-2014.[7]

Neuberger Berman[edit]

In September 2014, Eisman joined Neuberger Berman as a managing director and a portfolio manager for the Eisman Group within Neuberger Berman’s Private Asset Management division. The group, run by partners including Steve's parents, Elliott and Lillian Eisman, manages portfolios of stocks for wealthy clients.

Campaign against for-profit colleges[edit]

During a presentation at the 2010 Ira Sohn Conference Investment Research Conference, Eisman raised concerns about the for-profit education industry.[8] In his presentation, Eisman was highly critical of companies that run for-profit colleges, such as Apollo Education Group, Corinthian Colleges, Education Management Corporation, and ITT Educational Services, likening their loaning practices to what he witnessed from the subprime mortgage industry in the midst of the housing bubble.[9][10]

"Until recently, I thought that there would never again be an opportunity to be involved with an industry as socially destructive and morally bankrupt as the subprime mortgage industry. I was wrong. The for-profit education industry has proven equal to the task."[11]

After the Department of Education took action to strengthen a variety of consumer protection regulations in 2009-10,[12] the for-profit industry retaliated by accusing Eisman of attempting to illegally influence the government and calling for an investigation. The allegations stem from a meeting that Eisman had with Department of Education officials David Bergeron and Robert Shireman, two weeks before delivering his speech at the Ira Sohn Conference. Shireman was in charge of the department's regulatory efforts, which had begun more than a year earlier.[13][9] The agency’s Inspector General, after a review, concluded there was “no improper disclosure of sensitive information by Department officials in their communications with outside parties.”[14]

After offering testimony to Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee on problems with for-profit higher education, Eisman was criticized by progressive groups such as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) on the grounds that he stood to profit from proposed regulations due to his short positions against private colleges.[15] CREW was later found to have been receiving payments from a founder of for-profit University of Phoenix.[16][17] Harris Miller, president of the lobbying group that represents for-profit colleges said of him, "Eisman is a self-serving nutcase who got lucky. He's in the business of ruining the reputation of companies so he can make money when their stock prices drop."[9]

By the end of 2018, after government and media investigations had exposed predatory practices including fraudulent inducement to enroll, both Corinthian and Educational services were defunct, having ceased operations, due to reduced enrollment and ineligibility to continue participating in government backed student loan programs. The U.S. Department of Education later forgave over a half-million student loans linked to Corinthian programs.

Personal life[edit]

He has been married to Valerie Feigen since 1989.[18] Valerie was also portrayed in The Big Short under the name Cynthia, by Marisa Tomei. Feigen, who worked for J.P. Morgan, said of her husband, "Even on Wall Street people think he's rude and obnoxious and aggressive." While Eisman seems aware of his tendency to be rude he does not seem to be concerned by it. He once said to an interviewer on this topic, "I forget myself sometimes."[3]

Eisman's first-born son, Max, died after his night nurse rolled on top of him in her sleep. Eisman and his intimates describe the death of his son as a hugely influential event that affected him in many ways.[3]


  1. ^ "All of the Above: Education" (PDF). The Pennsylvania Gazette: 35. January–February 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  2. ^ Lewis, Michael (September 27, 2010). "Excerpt from The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine". Financial Times. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Lewis, Michael (1 February 2011). The Big Short. W.W. Norton and Company. ISBN 978-0393338829.
  4. ^ Ahmed, Azam (8 June 2011). "Eisman to Leave FrontPoint Partners". The New York Times DealBook. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b Solin, Daniel (17 September 2014). "The Shocking Admission of This Shuttered Hedge Fund Manager". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  6. ^ Juliet Chung (July 3, 2014). "Emrys Partners Hedge Fund Shuts Down". Wall Street Journal.
  7. ^ Herbst-Bayliss, Svea (4 July 2014). "Hedge fund manager Steve Eisman shuts down Emrys Partners". REUTERS. The Thomson Reuters Trust. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Live From the Ira Sohn 2010 Conference -". 2013-12-06. Archived from the original on 6 December 2013. Retrieved 2022-03-17.
  9. ^ a b c Yousuf, Hibah (21 April 2011). "For-profit colleges fighting back hard". CNN Money. WarnerMedia Company. Archived from the original on 5 May 2012.
  10. ^ Jessica Pressler (5 August 2010). "Steve Eisman's Outspokenness, Orchid Habit May Have Caused Rift With Morgan Stanley". New York Magazine.
  11. ^ Kroll, Andy (27 May 2010). "Steve Eisman's Next Big Short: For-Profit Colleges". Mother Jones.
  12. ^ "Negotiated Rulemaking for Higher Education 2009-10 - Team I: Program Integrity Issues". 2014-12-19. Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  13. ^ Did Steve Eisman unduly influence the Education Dept.?, by David A. Kaplan, Fortune, 2 November 2010
  14. ^ Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Education, "Department's Negotiated Rulemaking Process on Gainful Employment: Final Audit Report," June 2012, ED-OIG: A19L0002
  15. ^ Why Are Progressives Fighting Student-Loan Reform?, by Mike Elk, The American Prospect, 6 October 2010
  16. ^ "Money trail connects watchdog group CREW to the for-profit colleges it defended". Washington Examiner. 2014-09-02. Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  17. ^ "New Report Implicates Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in Suspected Pay-for-Play Scheme - Center for Consumer Freedom - Center for Consumer Freedom". September 3, 2014. Archived from the original on 2021-05-21. Retrieved 2021-08-27.
  18. ^ "Valerie Feigen, A Lawyer, Weds". The New York Times. 8 September 1989.