At first glance, John Paulson's personal haul in 2010 looks spectacular: The hedge-fund manager pulled in $5-billion (U.S.) last year betting on U.S. financials, emerging markets and commodities. That tops the $4-billion he made in 2007, when he bet against the U.S. housing market and established his reputation as a market guru.
But is Mr. Paulson an unusually canny investor? As the Wall Street Journal points out, about $1-billion of his haul comes from his firm's 20 per cent cut of profits - which can be big when you're managing $36-billion in assets.
However, the percentage gain for some of the biggest funds under Mr. Paulson's control are a little less spectacular. The Journal notes (subscription required) that his Advantage Plus fund grew 17 per cent last year, and another big fund rose just 11 per cent. By comparison the S&P 500 gained about 15 per cent last year, after factoring in dividends - which means that index investors who passively follow a stock market index more or less kept up with one of the brightest stars on the hedge fund scene.