Les Leopold has penned a book that if factual, is enough to you make you very uneasy and at some junctures downright angry.
The premise of the book is that hedge fund managers are making nearly a million dollars an hour in some instances. In addition, special tax codes, all completely legal, allow hedge fund managers to pay considerably less tax on their incomes. The author demonstrates that there is a “pecking order” around incomes and hedge fund managers are near the top of all earners. He maps out a linear examination of wealthy people in various occupations. The band U2 earns about $195 million a year or $93,750 an hour, Bon Jovi earns $125 million or $60,096 an hour and Justin Bieber earns a paltry $53 million dollars a year or $25,481 an hour. Top Hedge Fund Managers average $1.753 billion a year or $842,788 an hour. Top Corporate CEOs earn $47.1 million a year or $22,644 an hour. Top Lawyers earn $20.0 million a year or $9,615 an hour. Top Bank/Insurance CEOs earn $16.6 million a year or $7,981 an hour.
The average American family income is $45,800. In essence, Hedge Fund Managers earn about forty times as much as the top celebrities.
“In fact, the top Hedge Fund Managers in 2010 made as much an hour, $2.4 Million; as the average American family earns in 47 years.”
The author suggests that a hedge fund is a special investment fund designed by and for the very rich. In order to invest in a hedge fund you must have a minimum of a million dollars to invest. Most investors have much more than a million dollars. The hedge fund manager usually gets 2 percent of all the money invested and 20 percent of the total profits. There are 8,000 hedge funds in America and the top 250 have most of the clients. According to the author, the financial manipulations available to Hedge Funds amount to turning dust into dollars. Banks and Hedge Fund Managers were allowed to offer sub-prime, high risk mortgages to people who were highly unlikely to pay them back. They then as allowed by law, turned these worthless mortgages into AAA bonds. This rating is the same rating afforded guaranteed federally guaranteed bonds. Then they designed securities based on “toxic assets” that were designed to fail. The Hedge Fund Managers would then bet against them and then walk away with billions of dollars, all perfectly legal transactions.
“It is an incontestable fact that the largest banks in collusion with hedge funds designed securities based on the worst mortgage so that those securities would rapidly fail.”
“This allowed hedge funds to bet against those securities and make a killing.”
“Nowhere else in capitalism is this permitted.”
The equivalent would be a builder or owner that builds a home that would cause it to burn down in six months thereby allowing the owner to collect the insurance. The author also spends a good deal of the book describing what he calls “economic transactions with no redeeming value.”
The author suggests that these transactions have an enormous negative influence on individuals, our economy and even countries. The author points out that Democrats and Republicans created the regulatory void that has allowed these transactions to occur. If these transactions are what the author describes them to be then it really is not surprising that our financial system was on the brink of failure. It is totally ironic that the average American was compelled to bail these people out of the mess that they made. What is even more troubling is knowing that what they did, though perilously destructive to the average American, lost savings, lost retirements, etc., is totally legal. As it stands now, these kinds of transactions will continue.
I want to acknowledge that I know very little about the financial workings of hedge funds and how they operate. If Mr. Leopold is some crazy person making unfounded allegations about hedge funds he should be stopped. If not, every American should learn more about hedge funds and how they are being affected by their legal presence in our financial community. If these toxic elements are not more closely regulated or eliminated, I shudder to think what the young people among us will inherit if left unchecked.
Remember, all kids count.
Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net