Greasing the Wheels of Capital

Michael Giberson

According to the New York Times, Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine is coming out today with its annual list of the the top 25 hedge fund earners. Cue the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth:

“There is some question as to what the hell they are doing that is worth” that kind of money, said J. Bradford DeLong, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley. “The answer is damned mysterious.”

At least two of the 25 on the list made some of their money in energy:

John Arnold, the 32-year-old from Centaurus Advisors who amassed net gains of 200 percent last year. … His $3 billion fund, among the largest energy funds in the world, racked up huge gains by taking the other side of a natural gas bet that caused Amaranth to lose more than $6 billion in a week.

Boone Pickens, the 78-year-old oil tycoon, made $340 million on the back of strong returns at his energy funds….

It is kind of an amusing coincidence that 32-year old Arnold was on the winning side of the gas market changes that sent Amaranth Advisor’s down the tube. Amaranth’s big energy bettor was 32-year old Brian Hunter. (Just guessing here, but I would bet that Hunter didn’t make the Alpha top 25 this year.)


6 thoughts on “Greasing the Wheels of Capital

  1. Maybe we should hesitate to leap to conclusions about professionalism based upon remarks attributed to Delong by one reporter in one newspaper.

    (Striking, however, that this kind of remark — “There is some question as to what the hell they are doing that is worth that kind of money” — is often uttered with respect to tenured university faculty.)

  2. Mike, is this the first time you’ve read a statement like this from DeLong? It isn’t the first time for me. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that a professor from UC Berkely, the home of SDS and the “free speech” movement, talks like that. But I am.

    Also, I think that DeLong is being facetious.

  3. DeLong is a relatively prominent econoblogger, so if I am not reading him, I’m sure that I should be.

    But DeLong’s remark, even if partly toungue-in-cheek, strikes me as involving a sort of category error. It is really the wrong way to ask the question, if the point is really to ask a question and not just to get quoted in the newspaper.

  4. DeLong is a relatively prominent econoblogger, so if I am not reading him, I’m sure that I should be.

    But DeLong’s remark, even if partly toungue-in-cheek, strikes me as involving a sort of category error. It is really the wrong way to ask the question, if the point is really to ask a question and not just to get quoted in the newspaper.

  5. DeLong is a relatively prominent econoblogger, so if I am not reading him, I’m sure that I should be.

    But DeLong’s remark, even if partly toungue-in-cheek, strikes me as involving a sort of category error. It is really the wrong way to ask the question, if the point is really to ask a question and not just to get quoted in the newspaper.

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