At its peak, the hedge fund Amaranth had almost ten billion dollars in assets. A few weeks later it had completely collapsed. The disaster was mostly the responsibility of a 32-year-old trader named Brian Hunter, whose high-risk bets on natural gas prices bankrupted his firm and destroyed his career. Meanwhile, his rival at competitor fund Centaurus, John Arnold, emerged as the highest-paid trader on Wall Street and America's youngest billionaire. Meticulously researched and character driven, Hedge Hogs is a riveting, fly-on-the-wall account of the largest hedge-fund collapse in history: a blistering tale of the recent past that explains our precarious present and may predict our future.
Through emails, instant messages, court testimony, and exclusive interviews, Hedge Hogs charts the colliding paths of two charismatic traders who dominated the speculative energy trading market. It follows Hunter, the Canadian farm boy and elbows-out high school basketball star, as he achieved phenomenal early success, only to see his ambition, greed, and hubris precipitate his downfall. At the center of Hunter's misfortune is Arnold, whose mild manner, sophisticated tastes, and low profile belie his own ferocious competitive streak. As the two clash, billions of dollars -- much of it in the form of pension and endowment money -- vanished.
Hedge Hogs takes you behind closed doors into the shadowy world of hedge funds, the wild, unregulated frontier of finance, complete with lavish perks and over-the-top parties, where a tiny elite controls trillions of dollars of other people's money. The book traces the rise of this freewheeling industry while detailing the decades of deregulation -- of banks, of investment funds and of commodity trading -- that turned Wall Street into a casino for speculators.
A gripping saga peppered with tales of fast money, vivid characters, and high drama, Hedge Hogs is also a cautionary tale that describes a financial system jeopardized by reckless practices, watered-down regulation, and regulatory loopholes, just waiting for the next bust.