According to his book, the last four people to make $1 million playing the stock market since 1988 have all been from one of the six hedge funds I profiled below. Not surprisingly, these gamblers were always rich, but when they started playing the market, the odds of making millions jumped tremendously.
Of course, if you were to make all of $1 million betting on a single stock market index ETF (ETF), you could win the lottery, lose your job and spend 20 years in prison; a lot less likely, but still possible, when you’ve made over a million dollars on betting against index funds. (You could also lose your house.)
Some of these hedge-fund managers were hedge fund entrepreneurs, others were part of the private-equity industry. Most were from countries where the government owns a lot of stock exchanges, or had an interest in the price of the stock. So they knew the market.
As a result, these big winners from the markets have been successful since their first profits and losses were recorded, because they have the wealth of knowledge about the market to inform their investments.
In the case of Larry Fink, as a long-time manager with Bear Stearns, he became the first winner in the history of index funds. He made his money betting against the stock market. In 2000, he became head of the investment bank Blackstone. By 2005, he was one of the top 100 investors worldwide, according to the “Who’s Who 2000: The World’s Richest People” report, released by Bloomberg Intelligence back in March this year.
Fink, now 80, is probably the most successful hedge-fund manager of the modern era – and the first to turn his attention to investing beyond a handful of stocks: the funds he has created have now made over $300 billion in profits.
In his book “Cashing In,” Fink says he was once invited to attend a “gambling session”—an annual gathering of hedge-fund managers—by an old friend and fellow hedge-fund manager, Howard Marks, who was then head of investment in Fidelity.
When the session began, Marks suggested a bet: That the stocks of a handful of companies would collapse or that their market value would decline dramatically – even if they eventually rebounded back to where they were then.
“What do you think I’ll do?” Fink responded, “I’ll bet on the companies?”
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