Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) — A six-foot stuffed grizzly bear guards the entrance to the offices of Fleckenstein Capital Inc., located on a quiet, leafy street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. The bear sends a clear message: The man inside, Bill Fleckenstein, founder and president of the firm, is a short seller and proud of it.
Fleckenstein, 55, has emerged as one of the most-outspoken defenders of what has been depicted by everyone from the chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley to the Archbishop of Canterbury as a renegade class of investors. Since world markets began their most serious plunge in decades in July, 17 countries have banned or restricted short selling, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, Switzerland, Australia, Japan and Taiwan. Commentators around the world have labeled short sellers as hyenas, jackals, vermin and vultures.