2015 was a “another year of outrageous hedge fund compensation,” said Robert Weissman, president of advocacy organization Public Citizen.
Sparking his statement is the latest Rich List published by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine, which reveals that the industry’s top 25 managers made an average of $517.6 million, and had combined earnings of $12.94 billion.
The men at the top five spots all earned over $1 billion.
Topping the list are Kenneth Griffin of Citadel and James Simons of Renaissance Technologies, who each took in $1.7 billion. Simons has the distinction of being the only manager to appear on the list for its entire 15-year history. Griffin, the New York Times reports, “was the biggest donor to the successful re-election campaign of Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago. More recently he has poured more than $3.1 million into the failed presidential campaigns of Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, as well as the Republican National Committee.
The Times also notes that “Even as regulators push to rein in compensation at Wall Street banks, top hedge fund managers earn more than 50 times what the top executives at banks are paid.” But according to Sam Pizzigati, who edits Too Much, the Institute for Policy Study’s online weekly newsletter on excess and inequality, “the real enormity of America’s annual hedge fund jackpots only comes into focus when we contrast these windfalls to the rewards that go to ordinary Americans. Kindergarten teachers, for instance.”
“The 157,800 teachers of America’s little people, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us, together make about $8.34 billion a year,” he wrote.
As the Washington Post notes, “Hedge fund managers’ profits are treated as long-term capital gains, which means they’re taxed at no more than 15 percent. Critics say those earnings should be taxed as ordinary income, or as much as 39.6 percent.”
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