Friday morning at AQR, August 10. Cliff Asness glanced pensively at a candy-colored array of Marvel superhero figurines lined up along his east-facing window. Spiderman. Captain America. The Hulk. Iron Man. Comic book heroes of his boyhood days on Long Island.–The Quants, by Scott Patterson, page 100.
“Hedge funds charge far too much in general by claiming to be geniuses,” says Asness, lounging on a sofa in his corner office, surrounded by foot-high plastic models of comic book heroes like Captain America and Spider-Man. –Fortune, December 19, 2011
As a child, Clifford Scott Asness gave no sign of his future as a Wall Street tycoon. He was born in October 1966 in Queens, New York. When he was four, his family moved to the leafy suburban environs of Roslyn Heights on Long Island. In school Asness received good grades, but his interest in Wall Street didn’t extend beyond the dark towers of Gotham in the pages of Batman. Obsessed with little besides girls and comic books, Asness was a listless teenager, without direction and somewhat overweight. At times he showed signs of a violent temper that would erupt years later when he sat at the helm of his own hedge fund.–The Quants, by Scott Patterson, page 12.
“His super-villains are intellectual dishonesty and ignorance,” says Jonathan Beinner, a managing director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and a former classmate of Asness. “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.” Asness admits to a superhero complex. His favorite Marvel comic book character is Captain America, who gains strength with the help of a secret serum and whose shield can be used as an indestructible weapon. Asness has an image of the shield tattooed on his left arm.–Bloomberg Markets Magazine, October 7, 2010
As many of you know, PIMCO chief Bill Gross is fond of weaving life stories throughout his monthly investor letters. One of his favorites, and a “Gross family legend,” was featured in a March 2011 correspondence entitled “Two Bits Four Bits Six Bits A Dollar.” It is the tale of the time he gave a waitress “negative tip,” noting on a napkin: “Thanks for the shitty service…you owe me 25 cents.” So, clearly, acting like a cheap prick to waitresses is kind Gross’s thing, as indicated by the fact that he proudly wrote about it in a note disseminated to thousands. Which is why it distresses us to report that someone has not only been flagrantly stealing BG’s move but doing so in on his own turf. Examine the evidence with us. Read more »
Last Friday afternoon, while many a financial services employee was dealing with the fallout of receiving a bonus they did not believe to be commensurate with the work they put in for 2011, Bridgewater was dealing with a far weightier issue. The hedge fund had a thief in its ranks and said thief’s jig was up. Read more »
John F. W. Rogers, some say, is “the single most powerful person at Goldman Sachs,” and has been for the last decade. The man behind the man behind the man. The Wizard of GS. The guy who Lloyd Blankfein was actually referring to when he said “We’re just doing god’s work.” Known as a “master tactician with a long record of behind-the-scenes accomplishments…for whom invisibility is part of a master plan,” Rogers, who came to the firm from Washington in 1994 with zero Wall Street experience, is an executive officer who sits on the management committee and has served as “chief of staff” to three CEOs: Blankfein, Paulson and Corzine, JSC being his first, on the recommendation of Bob Rubin. While his title is somewhat vague, Rogers is known as “the foremost guardian of Goldman’s partnership culture,” a man with not just gold-plated balls but crystal ones (“He said there would be some investigations and we would likely be the primary focus,” says Lucas van Praag. “He was right.”) and the guy you don’t want to fuck with (“If wronged, his vengeance can kill careers.”). Not convinced? Then answer this: would a guy with anything less than god-like power be able to pull off this? Read more »
As you may recall, back in November the feds made a big show of announcing their latest insider trading probe by raiding showing up at the offices of a bunch of hedge funds, telling employees to walk in with their hands in the air and then sit quietly while a team of agents put documents in boxes. The ones we knew about were Level Global, Diamondback and Loch Capital, based in Greenwich, Stamford and Boston. There was also a fourth, whose identity has remained unknown. Read more »
“This shanty appeared today at the front of the Javits center entry, not sure why/what for. There’s a fashion show next week and people are setting up for that, doubt it’s related though. Any ideas? Off-site boardroom?” Read more »