Credit (or blame) Boaz Weinstein—a 38-year-old hedge fund trader known as a "monster" for his aggressive, risky style—for the $2 billion takedown of JPMorgan, reports the New York Times. Weinstein, a chess master and big-time Las Vegas gambler, isn't talking, but numerous other traders say he is the one who noticed something amiss in the credit derivatives market last November, spotting a particular index trading out of line in a market it was supposed to track. Weinstein and his team at Saba Capital Management did not know JPMorgan and the trader Bruno Iksil were on the other side; all Weinstein knew was that the other side kept selling, so he kept buying.
“It was one whale versus another whale,” says a hedge fund manager. Iksil kept upping the sells, trying to scare off the other side, but Weinstein did not stop; soon the volume of trades was off the charts and all of London was buzzing. In February, Weinstein even named the JPMorgan fund as one to buy, further ramping up the pressure. Ironically, though, many think Weinstein learned from painful experience—he lost $1.8 billion for Deutsche Bank in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis. “If you hand me a list of the top-performing guys in the space, I’d expect to see his name on it,” says one bank exec. “If you hand me another list of hedge funds that might blow up, I’d expect his name to be on that, too.”