These hedge fund managers made more than $3 million a day last year

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Inside Wealth

These hedge fund managers made more than $3 million a day last year

Production of $100 bills at the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth, Texas.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
Production of $100 bills at the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth, Texas.

There's an old saying that hedge funds are not so much an investing platform as a compensation plan. If so, they may be the most lucrative compensation plans ever.

The annual "Rich List" of top hedge fund earners from Institutional Investor is out and the numbers are so large that they're almost hard to conceive.

Four hedge fund managers made more than $1 billion last year. That's $1 billion in annual pay, not net worth. They make today's CEOs look like charity cases — the top hedge fund managers made 64 times the median pay of the CEOs of America's 100 largest companies. Just to make the top 25 hedge fund earners, you needed $225 million — up from $130 million in 2016.

This is what people mean when they talk about the new wealth gap between the rich and the super rich. Americans may be trying to keep up with the Joneses, but the merely rich are trying to keep up with the Teppers.

To really understand how much the hedge funders earn, you need to break it down, by days and hours. The top four hedge funders earned more than $3.5 million per day last year — assuming they worked all 365 days. And assuming that they worked 24 hours a day, they each earned more than $145,000 per hour, or $2,400 per second.

Put another way, the top hedge funders earned more than twice as much in one hour as the average American makes in a year.

Here is how much the top five hedge fund managers made each day and hour last year.

James Simons – Renaissance Technologies

  • 2017 earnings — $1.7 billion
  • Per day — $4.6 million
  • Per hour — $192,000
James Simons
Amanda Gordon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

David Tepper  — Appaloosa Management

  • 2017 earnings — $1.5 billion
  • Per day — $4.1 million
  • Per hour — $171,000
David Tepper
David Orrell | CNBC

Kenneth Griffin  — Citadel

  • 2017 earnings — $1.4 billion
  • Per day — $3.86 million
  • Per hour — $160,000
Ken Griffin, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Citadel, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, May 1, 2017.
Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

Ray Dalio — Bridgewater Associates

  • 2017 earnings — $1.3 billion
  • Per day — $3.6 million
  • Per hour — $148,000
Ray Dalio
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Israel Englander — Millennium Management 

  • 2017 earnings — $975 million
  • Per day — $2.7 million
  • Per hour — $111,000
Ronda Churchill | Bloomberg | Getty Images