Friday, April 02, 2010

Understanding Tepper Time

On the business page of the Times yesterday we learned that, while the economy was tanking last year, “top” hedge-fund managers were doing just fine, thank you.

How fine? The word “surreal” comes to mind.

David Tepper, the top earner, hauled in $4 billion (That's with a "B").

George Soros snagged $3.3 billion. James Simons tallied $2.5 billion.

And on and on.

The lowest paid among the top ten, the relatively impoverished Philip Falcone, garnered a mere $825 million.

Indeed, the Times told us, the 25 top hedge-fund managers averaged $1 billion each.

The untethered, billowing numbers float before our plebeian eyes.

We know that this is insane, but we can’t quite reel in the madness.

The Times is not helpful. It casts the story as some kind of race with Tepper crossing the line ahead of a Gucci-heeled pack. He rose to the “top spot” in the hedge fund sweepstakes. Soros was the “runner-up.” One manager’s compensation “edged out” another’s , etc.

It’s all just another horse race, score card or post-season play-off bracket.


No, let’s put Tepper’s $4 billion into the larger “societal context,” as they say.

That's the context that includes us. We live day by day. It turns out Tepper and friends do too, but with a massive monetary difference.

Let’s do the math on Tepper by breaking his compensation into “Tepper time.”

In one average day last year, Tepper took in nearly $11 million.

That’s for EACH of his 365 days.

I presume, no doubt falsely, that this guy works Saturdays and Sundays, 24/7, to earn $4 billion.

In just one hour of that 24-hour day, Tepper made $458,000.

Are you still with me?

One hour....$458,000.

What do you make in an hour? What do you make in a year? And how hard do you work to make it? Do you perform some useful, worthwhile service?

Pay attention here. This is important.

When Tepper awakens from an eight-hour sleep, he’s just pocketed $3.6 million in his PJs.

In a single minute, Tepper makes $7,633. That’s every minute of every 24-hour-long day.

In the time it takes this guy to shave and shower, he’s made what the average Jill and Joe make in a year — if they are fortunate enough to have a decent paying job.

In a New York second, Tepper is $127 richer.

Inhale, exhale. With each breath, Tepper is pulling in roughly $500.

Which gives real meaning to "living and breathing money."

Remember in January when we were voting on a tax package in order to keep the schools and other public services alive? The opposition labeled the measure “job-killing” taxes. It was a nasty little campaign. A few million got dropped just to get the word out.

Do you happen to recall how much money were were arguing over?

$733 million.

Tepper raked in that in just over two months, 66 days to be exact.

While Tepper’s clock was running at the annual rate of $4 billion last year, the Portland School district had an annual budget of $631.7 million.

Let the record show that Tepper’s annual compensation would have run six plus school districts the size of Portland’s. His annual take is roughly what 6,666 teachers (paid $60 grand each) make in a year.

Which leads to three obvious questions:

1. What does Tepper actually do to make him 6,666 times more valuable than a teacher? Basically, he and his fellow hedgsters gamble with other people's money.

2. What does it do to democracy when plutocrats have this kind of money to throw at legislation and politicians?

3. In a world where the poorest members of the masses are on the streets struggling to get by on $2 a day, just what are Tepper and his billionaire buddies doing with their hedge fund largess? I'll leave it to them to answer.

Let’s say you are scraping by on $700 a year in Bangladesh or Burundi. In the time it takes a Tepper to tee up his Titleist or sip a martini, he’s got you covered — for the year. If only.

Consider this: in Tepper time, it took the eight seconds to read the previous two sentences about grinding world poverty. On the Tepper-meter, that clocked out at $1,000.

Face it, the message isn’t worth Tepper's time of day — or night.

Hedge-fund managers have more compelling places to do think about than Bangladesh or Burundi. Switzerland or the Cayman Islands perhaps? Burmuda or Bimini?

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home