If gold ends up rocketing higher as bulls expect, it could turn John Paulson into one of the richest men in the entire world, if not the richest.
This is because much of the world’s wealthy lost money during the recent crisis and remain long the world economy, in contrast to Mr. Paulson.
Money Morning: On that famed list, at No. 33, is where you’ll find Paulson today. The hedge-fund manager’s financial acumen led to what is now being called the “the greatest trade ever.” By shorting the subprime mortgage market, Paulson & Co. Inc. generated a $15 billion gain.
Paulson’s personal net worth of $6 billion is impressive in its own right. But over the next several years, I believe that Paulson’s trading savvy will vault him into the top spot.
And the vehicle that will take him there is gold.
It’s an interesting thought, that Mr. Paulson could become the wealthiest person. It’s actually possible, but would be very challenging to achieve.
According to Forbes, Warren Buffett’s wealth comes to $40 billion at #2. Yet this wealth could be under pressure if the world economy stagnates and Mr. Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, merely grinds forward. Bill Gates was #1 at $50 billion, but has a similar problem as Mr. Buffett given that most of his wealth is in Microsoft.
Meanwhile John Paulson doubled his wealth to $6 billion in 2008 betting against the real estate market and is now near $6.8 billion. Now, he’s a huge proponent of gold, which could conceivably rally while Berkshire and Microsoft go nowhere or fall. Far more importantly, unlike Mr. Buffett or Bill Gates, Mr. Paulson can earn juicy hedge fund performance fees off of the 30+ billion dollars in assets under management at his hedge fund Paulson & Co.
Thus a few killer years for the fund could earn a lot of fees. If you double $30 billion of assets, yet take a 20% performance fee, you earn $6 billion right there. Poor Warren Buffett doesn’t collect these 20% cuts of other Berkshire shareholders’ gains. He simply collects the profit from his own shares and takes a relatively small salary. Gates’ wealth simply goes whereever Microsoft goes.
Hence if gold really shoots the moon, and say quintuples to $5000, there’s a chance that Mr. Paulson’s personal asset gains plus massive performance fees could vault him over Warren Buffett and Bill Gates’ top spots.
Such a scenario would likely make him look like a new Warren Buffett, but there’s a huge difference.
Paulson would make money on a giant speculative bet, and the majority of his wealth would likely be created via fees, not personal asset gains. Thus his personal performance would be vastly higher than his investors’ and would be less due to investment acumen and more due to his sweet fee structure. This is a far cry from Mr. Buffett’s no-fee, diversified, and conservative investment-built wealth.