How To Make Karl-Friedrich Lenz Look Stupid

Yesterday from 11 P.M. Japanese time I had the pleasure to attend a Twitter Q&A with Bloomberg New Finance CEO Michael Liebreich. I posted questions I had prepared for the occasion on Sunday here.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the event.

While I like Twitter and use it a lot, I am not sure if it is the best medium suited for this kind of conversation. Liebreich was bombarded with a multitude of interesting questions at the same time, making it very difficult to respond or follow up.

If one uses this format, I would recommend doing it like James Altucher, who has one of these each week, but then follows up in a long blog post where he can extend his answers.

Personally, I received an answer to one of my questions (the more important one, in my view). Hooray for me! I also managed to make myself look stupid in the process, which is always a welcome experience for a change.

Exactly at the start of the scheduled time, I tweeted this:

If by regulation the amount of oil sold went down 5% each year, would oil prices and oil company profits rise? #cleanrevolution

I was forced to reword my draft from the day before somewhat because the long hashtag eats so many characters. They should have chosen a shorter one.

To that, I got this reply:

@Kf_Lenz You think this is the smartest question ever. If you restrict supply, prices go up. Restrict demand, they go down.#cleanrevolution

I would be surprised to learn that Michael Liebreich actually has the intercontinental mind-reading skills necessary to know what I thought at the time, so I understand this as a (somewhat stinging) way to say “stupid question”. Or, as they would say in the UK “daft question”.

And I agree. It does seem obvious, so why do I need to ask an expert like Liebreich?

After some conversation I leave out here, I also go this as further confirmation:

@Kf_Lenz See my earlier answer. If you just restrict supply, prices go up and oil companies make more money. Doh.#Cleanrevolution#cocaine

So I got Liebreich to agree with my point of view, which is only common sense, that less supply leads to higher prices and profits.

So why again would fossil fuel companies be opposed to having exactly that happen? Why don’t they join forces with

That’s the part where the discussion would have become interesting (as opposed to the part that made me look stupid).

But unfortunately, it was not possible in that Q&A format to advance the conversation any further.

I posted my other question as well, but there was no time left to answer it.

I hear that next month another of these is scheduled. I probably won’t participate with any questions, and limit myself to lurking next time.

Related post: The simple solution to global warming

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

2 thoughts on “How To Make Karl-Friedrich Lenz Look Stupid

  1. Hi Karl-Friedrich Lenz,

    Thank you for participating in our Q&A yesterday, we appreciate it! We thought your questions were well thought out and triggered interesting discussion.

    It is a shame that Michael did not answer you more extensively, but that is in part due to the nature of the session.

    It is possible for guests to answer in more than one tweet if they wish to, or to link to further information. But this was quite a busy session and so he was under pressure to answer as many questions as he could.

    We do have space for deeper discussion on other platforms, such as Facebook and Google Plus, and Twitter users are able to carry on discussion with the guest in particular later on if they wish.

    We may well shorten the hashtag soon as I agree it is slightly too long, but we are still trying to build up awareness of the phrase ‘clean revolution’, so we need to keep using it for now unfortunately.

    I hope you are able to join us next month, as we appreciate every question that is asked!

    And thank you for your feedback! Hopefully we can try to address the issues you raised next month.

    Many thanks,


  2. Thank you for your friendly comment.

    Just to be clear, I certainly don’t blame Michael Liebreich for not answering more. I think I got more than my fair share of answers considering that he was talking to over 10 people at the same time.

    I do think that it would be a good idea to do what James Altucher does (expand later on the answers in a blog post).

    I will certainly be interested in following your next Q&A, and thanks again to you and your guest for this one.


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