(Bloomberg News) Jim Chanos, founder of $6 billion hedge fund Kynikos Associates, and Bill Gross, who runs the world's biggest bond fund, joined top asset managers in voicing understanding for anti-Wall Street protests as they spread to Manhattan's Upper East Side, home to the city's financiers.
Chanos said New Yorkers don't appreciate the impact government bank bailouts have had on other U.S. citizens. Gross, who works at Pacific Investment Management Co., said that wage earners are fighting back after three decades of class warfare against them.
"New York is so finance-centric that people here underappreciate the reaction of the rest of the country," Chanos, who was born in Milwaukee, said yesterday in an interview in New York. "People are angry, they feel the game is rigged, that they didn't get their fair shake."
Demonstrators in New York marched to the upscale Upper East Side neighborhood as the Occupy Wall Street movement that started last month in New York's financial district spread to other U.S. cities. BlackRock Inc.'s Laurence D. Fink, who runs the world's biggest asset manager, and billionaire investor Warren Buffett have said they understand the protesters' frustration.
Hedge-fund manager John Paulson, who became a billionaire by betting against the U.S. housing market and then profited from the recovery of banks, criticized the movement. His townhouse was among those targeted by marchers who left a fake tax-refund check made out for $5 billion on his doorstep, which was barricaded by police.
Paulson Fights Back
"Paulson & Co. and its employees have paid hundreds of millions in New York City and New York State taxes in recent years and have created over 100 high paying jobs in New York City since its formation," the $30 billion hedge fund said yesterday in a statement. "Instead of vilifying our most successful businesses, we should be supporting them and encouraging them to remain in New York City and continue to grow."
The protest march, which organizers called a "billionaires walking tour," targeted other executives including Jamie Dimon, who runs JPMorgan Chase & Co., and billionaire oilman David Koch.
Protesters have criticized the government for propping up hobbled financial giants, including Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., with a $700 billion taxpayer-funded bailout in 2008, while leaving Americans to struggle with unemployment, depressed wages, soaring foreclosures rates and slashed retirement savings.
Citigroup and Bank of America, both based in New York, have repaid money they received from the government.