As the chief instigator on The Motley Fool's wildly popular radio show, Chris Hill has the opportunity to talk with some of the brightest minds in the world of finance and economics. Today, he provides a frank rundown of his six favorite guests (in no particular order) on Motley Fool Money, the one-hour weekly business radio show syndicated to radio stations across America and available on iTunes.
Click here to find out who Chris would most like on the show in 2011.
When you're at a cocktail party and someone introduces himself as an economist, chances are you're going to be counting down the seconds before you can extract yourself from that conversation, says Chris. But if you somehow have demonstrated a knack for nailing gloomy economic predictions against conventional wisdom, you might pick up a cool nickname like Dr. Doom. From there, you'll be invited to speak at the world's foremost economic summits, get calls from world leaders, date a procession of jaw-droppingly beautiful women, and even get to spend some time on Motley Fool Money. At least that's how it's played out for Roubini.
"People very much want to know what he thinks," says Chris. "He's got a brilliant mind, but he's also very self-aware and very plain-spoken. He's the rare economist that people want to chat with at cocktail parties."
The host of CNBC's Closing Bell and author of The Weekend That Changed Wall Street: An Eyewitness Account, Bartiromo impressed Chris with how much of an old-school journalist she is. In her book, she details the weekend of Sept. 12-14, 2008, when Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS ) , Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , AIG (NYSE: AIG ) , and other major financial institutions were changed forever.
"Every financial journalist out there was after the story, but she outworked all of them," says Chris. "She sniffed out the story and then busted her butt to provide the blow-by-blow, behind-the-scenes story of what really happened."
Chris also liked her willingness to speak candidly about everything from her book to her skills at the blackjack table. "Interviews are always a lot more fun when people have a sense of humor and are willing to go off script," he says. "Authors plug books, CEOs stick to the company line, and that's fine because that's their job. So when you get authentic, unscripted moments, it makes for a great interview."
There's a tendency, says Chris, to assume that TV talking heads got their desk spots because they look good on camera. But as with CNBC-mate Bartiromo, Quintanilla showed a lot of substance. Plus, he taught Chris something about trash, which Chris knew little about before meeting Quintanilla. The co-host of CNBC's Squawk Box and host of the documentary Trash Inc.: The Secret Life of Garbage, Quintanilla literally waded into landfills to understand the business and shared that knowledge with Chris.
"Can I say it was pleasant? No. Did I go through multiple pairs of shoes and pants? Yes," Quintanilla told Chris. "Look, they are ridiculously advanced from an engineering standpoint, and they have even managed to find ways to minimize the odor, but would I want to spend the rest of the afternoon there, even with you? The answer is probably no."
From an investing standpoint, Quintanilla loves the broad moats enjoyed by industry leaders such as Waste Management (NYSE: WM ) and Republic Services (NYSE: RSG ) . "It would be very difficult for a new player to come in and have their kind of vertical integration," he said. "[The businesses'] cash is so flush and so attractive, and that is why the industry for years was a hotbed of organized crime. It was an efficient way to launder money, just because of the sheer amount of cash flow in these companies. It is incredible."
Dr. Dickson Despommier
Speaking of things Chris didn't already know about, the Columbia University professor talked about a field Chris had never even heard of -- vertical farming. The author of the book The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century discussed his vision to move farming into high-rise city buildings and transform the way we grow fruits and vegetables.
"I didn't know such a thing even existed," says Chris. "By the end of our interview, I totally believed it could work and started to think about what it might mean for large urban areas. It really opened my eyes to something with incredible potential to change the world."
"Michael Lewis is on this list because he's Michael Lewis," says Chris of the author of The Big Short, Moneyball¸ and other critically acclaimed and popular reads. "He's such a gifted writer and storyteller. We easily could have filled up the whole hour just having him share his stories."
The last guest on this list has been on the show a handful of times because she always offers keen and unexpected insight on her two areas of expertise: corporate governance and movies. The co-founder of The Corporate Library and the film critic Movie Mom, Minow is a passionate advocate of cleaning up poor economic behavior and making sure families spend their movie money on the films that deserve it.
"She's very passionate about her two things, but she takes a different approach than most people do," says Chris. "Instead of whining and hectoring when companies and their leaders behave badly, she approaches it with a sense of humor. She likes to point out the ludicrousness of a situation. It's a much more appealing style."
To catch recent shows, find out the stations that carry it, or subscribe to the free podcast, head to www.motleyfoolmoney.com.