“Even now hedge fund titans rake in billions.”
“Even now hedge fund titans rake in billions.” A friend sent me this piece that appeared in the business section of The New York Times on Wednesday. The headline would catch anybody’s eye, given the massive economic downturn that we and the rest of the world are enduring right now. The article was accompanied by a photo gallery of the top ten hedge fund managers and their estimated earnings for 2007 and 2008. While the markets were melting down, apparently the earnings of these ten men were still mounting up. The top three: James H. Simons, head of the Renaissance Technologies fund, earned $2.5 billion last year; John A. Paulson, “who rode to riches by betting against the housing market,” earned $2 billion over the same period; and George Soros, a familiar name on the wealthiest Americans lists, accumulated $1.1 billion from his hedge fund. Total take last year for the top 25 managers—$11.6 billion (half of the $22.5 billion they earned in 2007). “The managers’ compensation, which was breathtaking in the best of times, is eye-popping after a year when hedge funds lost 18 percent on average, and investors withdrew money en masse” (www.nytimes.com/2009/03/25/business/25hedge.html).
The populist hue and cry this past week over the AIG bonuses, along with this report of the top hedge fund managers’ earnings, is one more reminder of the age in which we now live. In fact there is a New Testament passage, with language so strong I am choosing not to quote it here, that links what is often called the “obscene” accumulation of wealth with the meltdown of human society and the return of Christ. James 5:1-6 specifically identifies financial hegemony at the expense of the hapless laborer and the downtrodden poor. A century ago the words of James’ were prefaced with this comment: “The Scriptures describe the condition of the world just before Christ’s second coming. Of the men who by robbery and extortion are amassing great riches, it is written . . . [James 5:3-6]” (9T 13, 14). But James turns upbeat with hope for the economically disenfranchised and the socially marginalized: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. . . The Judge is standing at the door!” (v 7, 9 TNIV). I.e., economic injustice between the have’s and the have-not’s will have its day in court, when the Judge returns.
So how then shall you and I live—we who will never be ranked in any top ten or 25 or pick-the-number listing? With our meager finances, how shall we survive what is portending to be the coming economic earthquake? Join our new mini-series (at worship, on television, podcast and radio) with four financial secrets on how to survive these tough economic times. Come to worship. Download the podcasts. And share the promise that “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). After all, his hedge fund is out of this world!