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What drives a man who’s made billions already to continue coming into the office every day in a quest to amass even more, particularly at a time when many are closing up shop? What drives him to keep going when he could comfortably retire to a beach on the coast of a country he could buy, and the one next to that, plus all their women and small boys? For some money managers, it’s a matter of proving themselves to mommy or daddy, who never thought they were good enough. For others, it’s the thing that makes them tick, with nothing else being a proper substitute for the feeling they get in their plums when they’re playing the game. For AQR Capital Management founder Cliff Asness, the motivation can be summed up in two words: super hero.
As we have discussed previously, Asness is a longtime Marvel comic book collector who currently keeps his favorite action figures, Spiderman, Captain America, The Hulk and Iron Man, on the desk of his office in Greenwich, Connecticut. Captain America is his favorite, and he has a tattoo of the guy’s shield on his right forearm. But for Cliff, this is more than a boyhood hobby. Since his days on Long Island, where he was “obsessed with little besides girls and comic books,” Asness has clearly had a dream.
Cliff wants a super hero character to be modeled after him. And he thinks that if he makes one more dollar, if he does one more interview wherein he suggest being photographed in front of his dolls, someone will get the hint. And speaking of hints, without expressly saying it, many have been dropped re: what kind of elements Cliff thinks should be involved in– and this name is not set in stone but let’s just call him this for now– Quant Man’s bio.
For instance, his duties in life include protecting truth and eradicating lies, by fighting the vicious animal liars who tell them.
“His super-villains are intellectual dishonesty and ignorance,” Jonathan Beinner, a managing director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and a former classmate of Asness, tells Bloomberg Markets magazine. “When someone offers an opinion that Cliff feels is incorrect or dishonest, whether it be related to investments, politics or pizza, he feels it is his duty to stand up, even if it’s not in his best interest.”
In addition to people who want to spread evil like universal healthcare.
He also takes a dim view of the administration of President Barack Obama, calling his economic team “Cossacks on a shtetl,” a reference to the Russian cavalrymen who sacked Jewish villages in Eastern Europe in the 19th century.
Like the Hulk, Quant Man has some rage tendencies that erupt when he’s battling things like market volatility.
And Asness…who admits to a superhero complex…[also] admits to a temper: He’s knocked his ViewSonic computer monitor to the floor on three occasions, though it never broke. “Either they’re building good computer screens or my punch isn’t what it used to be,” he says.
That’s because Quant Man is getting tired. He’s starting to lose his strength, like an out of shape Hulk who can’t even lift a car. How much thicker must this be laid on before someone moves their ass on the idea? Let’s at least get a costume sketch by the end of the year.