jeudi 30 juin 2011

Hedge Fund Managers Illustrate Deregulated Financial Capitalism's Plutocratic Madness

Despite the worst economic crisis in history, some top dogs aren't just raking in the cash, they're getting it delivered directly by Brink's. 

According to AR Magazine's AR: Absolute Return+Alpha survey on hedge fund managers' compensations, top managers made a total of $22.3 billion in 2007, an all time high since the surveys started nine years ago. One year later, it reported that compensations dropped almost 50%, to a still staggering $11.6 billion. 

In 2009, the 25 highest-paid hedge fund managers made $25.3 billion dollars. David Tepper of Appaloosa Management made $4 billion on investments in the financial sector. George Soros, best known for betting against the Bank of England in 1992, placed second with $3.3 billion. 

For 2010, AR Magazine says the 25 highest paid will take home a combined $22.07 billion, nearly down 13% from two years ago. 

John Paulson, who earned more than $2 billion last year, places first this year with a record $4.9 billion. That calculates to almost $155 per second. To put that in perspective, his earnings this year represent the combined income of all hedge fund managers just ten years ago. To match the salaries of the top 25, it takes take 441,400 Americans making $50,000 a year. 

Can these 25 individuals' work really be worth close to half a million's? Perhaps, as the French Socialist Party have at least promised in their presidential project, it's time to put a cap on executive pay (not just in the public sector, as they propose, but in the private as well). They propose a 1 to 20 limit. 

In the meantime, the judicial system censors its decision to prosecute or not based on your position in the capitalist pyramid. On July 3rd, fund manager Martin Joel Erzinger allegedly stroke Dr. Steven Milo with his 2010 Mercedes Benz sedan on Highway 6, in Eagle, Colorado. "Mr. Erzinger struck me (Milon was on a bicycle), fled and left me for dead on the highway", wrote Milo in a letter to the District Attorney. Erzinger implicitly pleaded guilty to having fled when he called Mercedes' auto assistance for his vehicle to be towed, but did not report the incident to the authorities. He says he didn't know he had struck the cyclist.

Court documents reveal Milo "suffered spinal cord injuries, bleeding from his brain and damage to his knee and scapula. Over the pas six weeks he has suffered 'disabling' spinal headaches and faces multiple surgeries for a herniated disc and plastic surgery to fix the scars he suffered in the accident". His lawyer, Harold Haddon, added that: "He will have lifetime pains. His ability to deal with the physical challenges of his profession - liver transplant surgery - has been seriously jeopardized". 

In the end, the District Attorney dropped the felony charges held against Erzinger claiming they would be bad for his business: "Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession", declared DA Mark Hurlbert. Erzinger is responsible for over $1 billion in assets for "ultra high net worth individuals, their families and foundations". 

Hurlbert went on to explain that charging Erzinger with a felony could affect his job and his ability to pay restitution: "When you're talking about restitution, you don't wan't to take away his ability to pay".

So there you have it folks, if you're part of the circle of men making their fortunes off of the world's suffering (and in fact contributing to perpetuate it), in the midst of the most dire economic times we have ever faced, you can literally cripple innocent bystanders for sport; the justice department will cover up for you. 

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