Compensations have been dipping into the billion dollar range for the past few years but the latest round of wealth has never been so astonishing.

  To put this into perspective, the top hedge fund manger last year earned 61,157 times more money than the average American family ($3.7 billion versus $60,500). He averaged $422,374 per hour, every hour for 365 consecutive days (more than $7,000 per minute).

Bringing home more than a billion in 2007: Five hedge fund managers rake it in
By Peter Cohan, Posted April 18, 2008

*  John Paulson (Paulson & Co.) — 2007 earnings: $3.7 billion. Beginning in 2005, Paulson made huge bets on the decline in value of securities backed by subprime mortgages

*  George Soros (Soros Fund Management) — 2007 earnings: $2.9 billion. Soros’ $17 billion flagship Quantum Endowment fund racked up a 31.7% return in 2007, its best annual showing since the high-tech implosion at the start of this decade. Soros’ $2.9 billion payday comes almost entirely from his personal stake in the fund (which he no longer manages). I don’t know how he made that 31.7% return.

*  James Simons (Renaissance Technology) — 2007 earnings: $2.8 billion. Simons, a mathematician and former Defense Department code breaker, uses complex computer models to trade.

*  Philip Falcone (Harbinger Capital Partners) — 2007 earnings: $1.7 billion. Like Paulson, Falcone placed a winning bet against the mortgage market. He pulled in returns of 117% after fees in 2007.

*  Kenneth Griffin (Citadel Investment Corp.) — 2007 earnings: $1.5 billion. Griffin manages $20 billion and is a big information technology innovator that trades derivatives. equity securities. and listed options and buys distressed assets at a discount. For example, In late 2007 a Citadel-led group put $2.55 billion into struggling E*Trade Financial Corp., (NASDAQ: ETFC), the U.S.’s fourth-largest