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  • Writer's pictureLaura Jones

Who is Mark Baum from The Big Short?

Any fans of the 2015 film The Big Short will know the character of Mark Baum. But, is he based on a real person? Who is it? And what is he up to now?

The Big Short
The Big Short ©Disneyplus

The Big Short, directed by Adam McKay, has a star-studded line-up including Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. It is based on the non-fiction book written in 2010 by Michael Lewis, which describes the real estate market of the 2000s, in particular the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

The film was released by Paramount Pictures in December 2015 to critical success, grossing $133 million and winning the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The character of Mark Baum is an investor and businessman who shorted CDOs (collateralised debt obligations) and was played by Steve Carrell. He was credited with predicting the financial crisis, contrary to what many of those around him believed.

Is Mark Baum based on a real person?

Mark Baum is based on a real person who asked his name to be changed for the film, Steve Eisman. While at FrontPoint Partners LLC, which was a trust fund of Morgan Stanley, Eisman managed more than $1 billion. Based in Greenwich, Connecticut, FrontPoint Partners bet against subprime mortgages during the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

What is Steve Eisman’s background?

Eisman grew up in New York city before attending the University of Pennsylvania, where he was awarded a BA. He then went to Harvard Law School.

Earlier in his career, he was a managing director and senior financial services analyst at Chilton Investment Co. He then moved onto Oppenheimer & Co., where he was also a financial services analyst within the Investment Bank, Asset Management and Specialty Finance divisions.

Steve Eisman
Steve Eisman ©Bloomberg

What has Steve Eisman done since The Big Short?

Eisman left FrontPoint Partners in 2011 and founded Emrys Partners in 2012, with $23 million in seed capital. The fund did not perform very well however, and in 2014 he shut it down.

He then joined Neuberger Berman as a managing director and senior portfolio manager for the Eisman Group within the Private Asset Management division.

How accurate is Steve Carrell’s portrayal of Steve Eisman in The Big Short?

Although Steve Carrell’s character is Mark Baum, how close to Steve Eisman is he in this portrayal?

One aspect of his personalty shown in the film is his tendency to be rude. Eisman’s wife, Valerie Feigen (Cynthia in The Big Short, played by Marisa Tomei) had this to say about her husband:

"Even on Wall Street people think he's rude and obnoxious and aggressive.”

In The Big Short the following exchange takes place:

Mark Baum (on the phone): OK, I want you to walk back in there and very calmly, very politely tell the risk-assessors to f**k off!

Vinny Daniel (walking into the room): Gentlemen, I just spoke with Mark Baum and he says to ‘f**k off’.

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