Watch economic genius Kevin O’Leary utterly embarrass himself on CNBC


Jesse Myerson is a young, left-wing journalist who recently wrote an article for Rolling Stone that advocates some solutions to America’s ongoing economic malaise. These solutions range from a guaranteed income to a land-value tax. They are reforms that assume the economy should serve the people (all of them) and not the other way around.

Obviously this kind of common-sense thinking has a lot of conservatives incredibly upset, though most of them have been unable to muster any substantial criticism of the piece. “But capitalism!” and “LOL kids today” are among the most common critiques.

But as unimpressive as American conservatives have been in refuting Myerson’s ideas, none of them can compare to Canada’s own Kevin O’Leary, who was inexplicably invited to debate Myerson on CNBC Tuesday. And the K-man seemed very eager indeed to show just how unprepared someone can be for a five-minute cable news debate.

Even though O’Leary has long been a household name in Canada, he’s trying to grow his brand in the U.S. and clearly thought CNBC was friendly territory. All he needed to do was trot out some Soviet Gulag references and shout loudly, and a victory for capitalism would be assured.

Things went off the rails quickly, though, when O’Leary said he wanted to rebut Myerson’s suggestions about free education.

Myerson’s piece did not discuss education.

Undaunted, O’Leary said Myerson was complaining that young people have a lot of debt, and pointed out that educational debt is a huge problem for young adults.

At this point, Myerson realized the obvious: “You didn’t read the piece, did you? I didn’t mention student debt. At all.”


Let’s just remember that O’Leary is one of Canada’s most prominent economic voices, for some reason, and is so trusted that he has an hour-long analysis show on the CBC with Amanda Lang. And this is the best he could do?

This man suffers from either utter incompetence or such baffling hubris that he failed to do even the barest preparation for his appearance, which was to read a five-point listicle. If he had prepared adequately, O’Leary might have had some things to say that actually pertained to Myerson’s suggested reforms.

Maybe O’Leary shouldn’t shoulder all the blame, though. Myerson clearly knows his stuff: he cited several mainstream and libertarian economists who have suggested similar reforms to his — including, of all people, Milton Friedman.

Not that actual economic theory matters to O’Leary. He just wants to continue parlaying his wealth into fame and respect, and hopefully keep hidden the fact that he is illiterate.


UPDATE: Only a day after his cringe-worthy performance on CNBC, Kevin O’Leary chided people for not preparing enough when they talk to him.

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  • Urlo

    Oh my, thank you so much for this piece. Here in Canada, we have to suffer through this Libertarian clown on a daily basis.
    One important point to remind my American friends because it is soooo ironic when it comes to our friend O’Leary: he is paid handsomely to appear on the CBC.
    CBC is publicly financed by all Canadian taxpayers.
    So while this guy rails about government hand-outs to the middle-class etc.,while he preaches his Libertarian, small government gospel, here he is getting paid from the public trough.

    • David Church

      CBC is PARTIALLY funded by the federal government (about 50%), the balance comes from advertising revenues.

      O’Leary is paid to appear on 2 CBC shows because his shtick and antics increases ratings. Amanda Lang is a respected Business journalist who plays good cop to O’Leary’s crazy drunk uncle. He has long dropped any presence of offering a considered expert viewpoint.

      • SimonFraser4

        Every TV network in Canada is partially funded by the gov’t.

        • afda

          your face is partially funded by the gov’t

      • Duncan Bray

        yes, you’ve summed it up. Entertainment, only. What I don’t understand is how the woman manages to continue, as she does seem to have some integrity … or I’m just a sucker of another kind … :^))

  • Mark McQueen

    Canadian? Kevin O’Leary once claimed on Shark Tank that he lived on “Marlborough Street in Boston”, although his LinkedIn profile reports him to be a resident of West Palm Beach, Florida.

    I’ve been blogging about Mr. O’Leary’s antics for more than five years. Here is a link to some of the highlights:

  • Richard

    I really wish Myerson had let O’Leary respond to his “you didn’t read the piece, did you” comment.

  • Allott

    Wow he is as ignorant in America as he is in Canada! I am so happy to hear this. Good bye Capitalist scum! I am zoo tired of his same message repeated repeated repeated repeated again and again and again. Move to the US of A and try your luck there. Good ridence.

  • Shebango

    O’Leary just got served and spanked. He’s a fool.

  • Nadine Lumley Real

    Sitting tantalizingly in a warehouse in Winnipeg are 2,000 boxes of information about
    one of the most fascinating social policy experiments in Canadian history.

    The experiment began in 1974. It was designed to test the concept of a
    guaranteed annual income in a small, fairly typical, community. Dauphin, a
    rural municipality of 13,000 midway between Winnipeg
    and Regina, was chosen at the behest of former Manitoba premier Ed

    The city’s low-income residents were lifted and kept out of
    poverty, using a negative income tax. (Canada Revenue Agency topped up their
    income if it fell below the poverty line.) They could use the money as they chose.


  • Robert

    Did you actually read the article? It does mention student loans and debt.

    • Dan Josselyn

      Where? Can you quote it? I just read the article, I saw the word debt mentioned, but not student debt, nothing about education, and no proposals related to those issues.

      • John

        It mentions personal debt which would it part be an individuals education debt if you look at the broader picture. It also discuss the guaranteed work for everybody which i believe O’Leary was address in his argument, only he went about it by address the fact of accumulating personal debt (student debt) through many years at school for a degree that really won’t set you up for a job. At least that’s how i see where O’Leary was coming from. I don’t believe that myerson was very professional in his tact for handling it.

        • Dan Josselyn

          No, that makes no sense. It’s like arguing a box of Cheerios is a dissertation on wheat farming because the word wheat DOES in fact get mentioned on the box. O’Leary clearly did not know what the article was about and he made a fool of himself. You are really reaching here.

    • Jane

      They cant find jobs after they graduate thats why! Toronto has the highest unemployment in canada due to massive immigration for some unknown reason we still cannot figure out.

      • Andrew Stansbury-Cecil

        the reason is that Canada is one of the largest underpopulated countries on the planet and it is full of resources and we would like to build a strong economy. it’s not the immigrant’s fault that 85 people own half of the worlds wealth.

  • crypticvalentin

    Signs Of The Times

  • crypticvalentin

    O’Leary net worth=300 million..he wants system to stay exactly as it is, for he and his 1% friends..

    • Duncan Bray

      .. the man could only be described as a lackey for the uberrich.. hardly a 1% with that kind wealth … just common grade asshole

  • John

    Did any of us actually bother reading the Rolling Stone article? Because it does in fact discuss student debt and loans:

    “There is only one state that currently has a public option for banking: North Dakota. When North Dakotans pay state taxes, the money gets deposited in the state’s bank, which in turn offers cheap loans to farmers, students and businesses. The Bank of North Dakota doesn’t make seedy, destined-to-default loans, slice them up inscrutably and sell them on a secondary market. It doesn’t play around with incomprehensible derivatives and allow its executives to extract billions of dollars. It just makes loans and works with debtors to pay them off.”

    Rather than coming up with trash like this piece (O’Leary is an illiterate… oh my, so clever), maybe the author should have bothered reading the article herself first. Because the only one utterly embarrassing themselves is you.

    • FrankZappatista

      Oh good one John! Yeah, that passage proves the Rolling Stone article was all about student loans and student debt. You win!

    • Dan Josselyn

      The article does not discuss education, and it does not discuss student debt specifically, just peripherally as it relates to banking in general in one state.

      • Dan Josselyn

        O’leary was objecting to proposals that the author didn’t make, proving he did not read the article. This entire piece is 100% fair, O’leary looked foolish, and there is no getting around that fact.

  • Endeavor Morris

    Kevin O’Leary, the David Suzuki of economics.

    • Duncan Bray

      hmm… looks like 4 people don’t understand, or perhaps appreciate very dry humour :^)) /// good one, Mr. Morris … a very appropriate equation

  • james browne

    Doesn’t anyone get the gist of the argument made by Myerson?
    Education has became the domain of the RICH.
    A kid and parents have now to look at the cost involved.
    And by the way as a Canadian I’m ashamed of O’Leary and the C.B.C

  • Oemissions

    we despise him in Canada and have asked the CBC to stop employing him

    • Duncan Bray

      this is true … time for another petition about that, actually …

  • Scott Maphilisto

    Kevin oleary has a delusion that some how he will be paying for everybody perhaps he is making to much money and we need to investigate his offshore income to bring him back to the human race.His lack of solutions and general attitude sound counter productive and his attitude would perhaps be better suited for a dictatorship like North Korea and not a market driven taxpayer funded one.

  • Michael MacDonald

    cbc is far from right wing itself. It’s actually non-bipartisan and they work under a broadcasting act where it’s illegal to knowingly misinform the public. like any network though they have a few bad apples, but I honestly think that kevin O’Leary is kept on to make sure that people can’t accuse the CBC of having a liberal bias. you know with all of the liberal issues they are helping in the fight for (ending marijuana prohibition, gay rights, etc) I guess they have to have some people on from the other side of the spectrum in order to be truly non-biased. I never cared for Mr. O’leary and I’ve always prefered CBC radio over the television network. I suggest that you listen to the radio over watching tv for your news any day. Just to make the point though, if the CBC was right wing, then harper wouldn’t be so determined to attack them all the time.

    • Michael MacDonald

      I’d rather have to listen to this guy once and a while and bite my tongue then have the cbc be biased even in my favor though so I guess it’s good in that way.

    • Duncan Bray

      you have a point … and the guy doesn’t BOTHER me … I just consider tasteless entertainment, and certainly never watch it

  • Ron

    Kevin O’Leary is a pompous self absorbed blight who feeds at the public trough and denies it. If he is such a brilliant business man why doesn’t he stick to business and keep his selfish,backward opinions to himself.

    • Jane

      Justin Trudeau would be a close second to Kevin! He charges 20000 to make a speech to non-profits, most of whom have had their budjets slashed by 80%. He is already a born millionaire. He should donate that money to food banks or to build housing for all the thousands of people out of work who are losing their housing (you know the 2.5 million in canada).

      • Mike Roberts

        Trudeau spoke at our faculty colloquium and the Student Assoc. had to shell out an exhorbitant amount to get him, money that has to be re-newed by the fees from students who are facing chronic unemployment when they get out…

  • Nathan Weber

    O’Leary is not Libertarian Urlo. That is all. Otherwise I agree with your post.