Source: NY Times
The Lazarus-like recovery of the nation’s big banks did not benefit just the bankers — it also created huge paydays for hedge fund managers, including a record $4 billion gain in 2009 for one bold investor who bet big on the financial sector.

The manager, David Tepper, wagered that the government would not let the big banks fail, even as other investors fled financial shares amid fears that banks would collapse or be nationalized.

“We bet on the country’s revival,” Mr. Tepper, who describes his trading technique as a mix of deep analysis and common sense, said Wednesday in an interview. “Those who keep their heads while others are panicking usually do well.”

That strategy handed Mr. Tepper, a plain-spoken Pittsburgh native who first made his name at Goldman Sachs, the top spot on the annual ranking of top earners in the hedge fund industry by AR: Absolute Return+Alpha magazine (subscription required), which comes out Thursday.

His investors did not do badly, either — Mr. Tepper’s flagship fund gained more than 130 percent last year.

The runner-up in the ranking was George Soros, the Hungarian émigré who has become better known in recent years for supporting Democratic candidates and making political headlines than for picking stocks. His fund, Quantum Endowment, grew 29 percent in 2009, earning Mr. Soros $3.3 billion in fees and investment gains.

Hedge funds — the elite, lightly regulated investment vehicles open to a restricted range of investors — enjoyed a winning streak during the buyout boom that preceded the financial crisis in 2008. Then the bottom fell out of the industry, handing even top hedge funds double-digit percentage losses. In turn, the earnings of the top 25 fund managers in the 2008 survey tumbled 50 percent.

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