Betting correctly that the federal government would not let more banks fail after the cruel denouement of 2008, hedge fund managers engineered a record payday for themselves in 2009. The top 25 brought in $25.3 billion, topping 2007’s record by a healthy margin, and the $4 billion taken in by one astute investor is now the personal record. “We bet on the country’s revival,” David Tepper tells the New York Times.
“Those who keep their heads while others are panicking usually do well,” Tepper continues. His fund surged 130%. Tepper is one of many top earners who took a loss in 2008—one manager turned a disastrous 55% drop in his fund last year into a 62% gain in 2009. Other sages have been on an even keel, including George Soros, who won in both years. But don’t expect the big numbers to continue. “Last year, there was a great opportunity in debt,” says Carl Icahn. “Today, it’s fully valued.”