But in northern New Jersey, David Tepper had another extremely strong year. The founder and head of Appaloosa Management guided his flagship hedge fund to net returns of nearly 30%. Tepper personally made an estimated $2.2 billion in 2012, topping Forbes’ list of the 40 highest-earning hedge fund managers and traders.
It has been four years now since Tepper, 55, started aggressively buying shares in U.S. banks like Bank of America that were reeling from the credit crisis, successfully betting that the U.S. economy and financial sector would not crumble. His 2009 trade became legendary, but while other hedge fund managers who did spectacularly well during the credit crisis have faded, Tepper, a former Goldman Sachs bond trader, has continued to deftly trade financial markets. In 2012 he continued to make a good case for being one of the greatest hedge fund managers ever.