John Paulson: Very Rich, Not Very Well-Liked

It's not easy making billions while everyone else is losing their shirts. Just ask John Paulson, the founder of the hedge fund Paulson & Co. who collected $3.7 billion in 2007 and, unlike the vast majority of his peers, had a fantastically profitable 2008, too. Of course, making money off the collapse of the global economy isn't the sort of thing that earns you many fans, as Gary Weiss points out in the new issue of Portfolio: "It's hard to see how any financier who made a fortune from market turbulence can improve his public image when the economy is in such serious trouble... Traders like Paulson will probably never be popular. They might as well get used to it."

If you were expecting to find Paulson a little embarrassed by his good fortune amid the economic turmoil, think again:

Paulson himself remains unrepentant. At a recent lunch for investors at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan, his clients dined on Colorado rack of lamb and sipped champagne, the recession be damned.

But instead of reviling Paulson, maybe we really should consider hiring him. If the man is so good at making money during the biggest economic meltdown in history, the government should have just given him the $700 billion instead of handing it out to crumbling, dysfunctional banks. Washington would have $1.4 trillion to play with by this time next year!

The Man Who Made Too Much [Portfolio]