THE HEDGE-FUND BLUES

You think the poor people in New Orleans have it bad, or the people in Iraq, or the people of Darfur? Well, you haven’t known real suffering until you’ve felt the pain of a small group of Americans said to be experiencing a living hell. I speak, of course, about hedge fund executives.

You think the poor people in New Orleans have it bad, or the people in Iraq, or the people of Darfur? Well, you haven’t known real suffering until you’ve felt the pain of a small group of Americans said to be experiencing a living hell. I speak, of course, about hedge fund executives.

Yes, these super-elite, Wall Street speculators are billionaires who’ve been making a killing the past several years – but do you not realize that the wheeler-dealer market has softened recently and that is causing gut-wrenching anguish in the wealth-advantaged community? It’s not merely that stratospheric hedge fund gains have slowed, but that the swashbuckling ethic of no-holds-barred self-enrichment has sagged. As one observer described the despair: “People just don’t feel euphoric.”

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How bad is it? So bad that no one has bought “Old Trees.” It’s a Gatsbyesque 11-acre estate with 21 bedrooms and 2 swimming pools in Southampton, an enclave of Wall Street swells. It’s offered at only $48 million… but, alas, no takers. Why? With deflated psyches, the billionaires just don’t feel their lavish selves, so they aren’t buying. “I have seen people shaken, their confidence eroded. They are upset and depressed,” says a psychologist who has been hired by large hedge funds to counsel traumatized billionaires.

Another hedge fund psychiatrist reported the horror of the financial dip in these terms: “Some people are debilitated by it. You can’t sleep, you can’t eat.” And if that picture of upper-class suffering doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, get ready to be reduced to tears by this horrific finding: Some hedge fund executives are in such emotional distress that it’s affecting their golf scores.

Haven’t they suffered enough? I say we should take up a collection to send them to New Orleans, Iraq, and Darfur so they can tell people there how much they’re hurting.

“Suddenly, a Hesitation About Splurging,” The New York Times, September 19, 2007

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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