Calendar years are somewhat arbitrary things. As those following a lunar or Jewish or Mayan long-count system, or even old-timey users of our own Gregorian calendar, can tell you, it’s not necessary to begin on January 1 and end on December 31. But for a variety of reasons both cultural and convenient, it’s what we do and it mostly works for us, especially when the thing we’re doing is really pretty unimportant, such as ranking the performance of a relatively small portion of the asset-management community—say, hedge fund managers—in each particular 365- or 366-day period.

Still, even there, given the time it takes for those hedge funds to report their performance, and then the time it takes to compile those reports and calculate rankings, these lists can prove more or less useful depending on events more contemporaneous than the New Year’s ball drop, and also slightly comic compared to other such lists. And so it is with Bloomberg’s annual list of the 15 hedge fund managers earning the biggest paydays of the year.

At the top of this list we find Tiger Global Management’s Chase Coleman, no surprise given his impressive debut this year on LCH Investments’ own career-based league table. Not on that list? Renaissance Technologies’ Jim Simons, on account of all the money his firm lost for its outside clients in 2020 (and, in early going, 2021). But he’s on the Bloomberg list, thanks to the $2 billion he made on a fund that’s not open to clients.

Likewise, Bill Ackman and David Shaw celebrated the $1.3 billion and $856 million they made, respectively, last year by immediately losing clients 3.2% and 2.3%, respectively, in January.

But no inclusions are quite as funny as those of mentor and protégé Steve Cohen and Gabe Plotkin, who on account of certain recent difficulties are going to have a hell of a time making this list next year.

Melvin Capital Management’s Gabe Plotkin made about $850 million in 2020 as his firm’s flagship fund returned 53%. But in January, it was caught on the wrong side of the retail mob that pushed up the price of stocks Melvin had bet against. That led to a 53% decline and an estimated $460 million loss for Plotkin personally, illustrating how quickly paper gains can vanish.

Coleman Leads $23 Billion Payday for 15 Hedge Fund Earners [Bloomberg]
Renaissance, Pershing Square among hedge funds that got clobbered in January [MarketWatch]
Two Sigma, DE Shaw Posted Losses in Some Funds in January: FT [Bloomberg]

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