Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Top Hedge Hogs of 2008

Holy Madoff with it! Today's New York Times “Business Day” section showed the mug shots of the eight "top" hedge fund managers ranked by what they “made” in 2008.

For an accounting of their nine- and ten-digit "takes," go here. For an account of what they don't pay in taxes, go here.

The numbers, of course, boggle the mind. James Simons leads the list with $2.8 billion. That’s with a “b,” and if you write it out, it looks like this:

$2,800,000,000.

To put Mr. Simons' annual compensation in perspective, $2.8 billion is 56,000 times a salary of $50,000.

Think of it — one person whose compensation is that of 56,000 fellow human beings earning $50,000 each.

The $11.6 billion earned in 2008 by the top 25 hedgers is substantially more than the State of Oregon’s annual $7 billion general fund. What this coterie of cash churners paid themselves last year is nearly quadruple Oregon's annual contribution to all its K-12 schools.

Then there is the question of whether any of the top 25 actually did anything to “earn” their largess besides gamble with other people’s money.

Compare their real contribution and productivity to that of the worker who patches pavement, picks lettuce, teaches school, waits on tables, checks out groceries, manages a store, shingles roofs, nurses the ailing, polices the streets and repairs the plumbing.

I have a friend and former student who actually writes for a hedge fund newsletter. I invite him to enlighten me by responding to the following observation: By comparison to most American workers, hedge fund managers contribute zilch and should be paid accordingly.

UPDATE: Chris Clair, who is referred to in the above paragraph, works for the industry newsletter Hedge World. Chris has passed on a three-part response to this post. The first, with links to the second, starts HERE. The third part will be posted later Friday, April 3.

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2 Comments:

Blogger ken said...

Amen! I've often thought it odd that the financial and legal "overhead", that contribute nothing to the GNP, are paid so much more than those of us that do.

(BTW - just found your blog. I'll enjoy reading it from now on)

9:57 AM  
Blogger Rick Seifert said...

Welcome, Ken.

My friend and former student, Chris, is working on a response in which he tells us what hedge fund managers do to earn their stratospheric wages.

Stay tuned.

6:30 PM  

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