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Episode Description:

Michael Milken is a legendary financier and philanthropist. Mike is best known for his role in creating the high-yield bond market in the 1970s and 1980s at Drexel Burnham Lambert, his guilty plea, and his remarkable philanthropic efforts over fifty years supporting medical research, education, and public health. Under Mike’s leadership, upstart Drexel became the most successful securities firm on Wall Street, enabled capital to become available for the 99% of companies that could not previously access the public market, and turned into the greatest breeding ground for talent in the industry. Approximately seventy investment firms are headed by leaders who worked for Mike, including founders and leaders of Apollo, Ares, Blackstone, Canyon, Cerberus, Crescent, GoldenTree, Goldman Sachs, Jefferies, Leonard Green, and Moelis.

Our conversation begins with Mike’s childhood and his early interest in democratizing access to capital. We discuss his career goals, the importance of capital structure, and his perspectives on markets today. We then turn to Mike’s long history of philanthropic work to improve education and advance cancer research, as described in his book Faster Cures: Accelerating the Future of Health.

I should note that we do not discuss Mike’s difficult years post-Drexel or his pardon in 2020. However, next week Mike’s longtime personal attorney, Richard Sandler, will join me to discuss just that.

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