(David Cooper/Toronto Star/Getty)
#7: Prem Watsa
Chairman & CEO, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.
Why he matters: Has investors hanging on his every word
Prem Watsa is probably the only investor in Canada with a fan club. A devoted following of value investors parse his investor letters and descend on Toronto for Fairfax’s annual meeting. Watsa’s sway with investors is no mystery: Fairfax has returned more than 5,000% over the past 20 years, and the company has its hands in a diverse array of businesses, including insurance, media, and restaurants. Watsa’s financial support of BlackBerry has helped dispel the air of gloom around the company, but it’s his bet on the global economy that’s really raising eyebrows. He’s banking on deflation and has taken a position against certain indices. Given the turmoil this year, Watsa may be proved correct.