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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public markets can feel simultaneously old-fashioned and incomprehensibly ultra-sophisticated when compared with the private-market world of pitches and storytelling.

The big picture: Inhuman algobots make billions trading on millisecond time horizons, while trillions of dollars are invested on the basis of archaic sales pitches.

Driving the news: The biggest surprise in the latest raft of headlines about sexist comments by 68-year-old billionaire fund manager Ken Fisher is the list of "smart money" institutions that invested hundreds of millions of dollars with him.

  • Before the latest scandal, Fisher managed some $11 billion on behalf of U.S. government pension plans, including $600 million of Michigan's state employees' money alone.
  • Fidelity Investments had $500 million with Fisher, and even Goldman Sachs gave him millions of dollars of its clients' money to manage.

Flashback: When we last checked in on Fisher in February, the old lion was roaring. He was managing $100 billion of other people's money, he was bringing in $1 billion a year, and defiantly refusing to be disrupted by glossy startups.

  • Reality check: Fisher almost certainly still has more than $100 billion under management, and still brings in more than $1 billion a year. As Fisher knows better than anybody, people generally massively overestimate the impact of short-term news on long-term performance.

Why it matters: All fund managers invest in marketing. What distinguishes Fisher, and what made him so successful, was the amount of effort he put into direct sales. It wasn't always pleasant being on the receiving end of those sales pitches, but they clearly worked. Fisher managed to reel in not only befuddled retirees, but monster pension funds.

Go deeper: The rockstar allure of private money

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
6 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

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