Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The man who lost $6 billion (Brian Hunter, Amaranth)

We've been fans of Bethany Maclean since her work on Enron in 2001. We've got a link to that ENE piece and her look at sub-prime in "Wall Street Learned the Lessons of Enron (Unfortunately)".
Now she writes about another of our favorite stories.* From Fortune:

Brian Hunter brought down Amaranth with disastrous trades on gas. He is accused of manipulating the markets. He has been called the 'destroyer of all worlds.' But is he such a bad guy?

There's a certain allure to the archetype of the rogue trader.

As Jane Austen might have said, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a man who single-handedly loses a large fortune, especially one that wasn't of his own making, must be way more interesting than the average man. After all, not just any old someone gets the chance to destroy massive amounts of capital, let alone force an entire company, and maybe even the entire market, to the edge of disaster - or over it. Those who do become part of business lore: Nick Leeson, Yasuo Hamanaka, Brian Hunter, Jerome Kerviel.

But does the reality measure up to the myth?

Brian Hunter, the former head natural-gas trader for Amaranth, the $10 billion hedge fund that infamously imploded in the fall of 2006 after Hunter's bets on the price of natural gas went spectacularly wrong, has earned himself a permanent spot among the legends.

Hunter has been accused of losing upwards of $6 billion, which until Kerviel came along was the biggest loss by a single trader in the history of securities markets. Business Week recently included him in its "Rogues' Gallery of Traders," which the magazine explained was a "notorious list of fraudulent trades." likes to call him the "destroyer of all worlds.">>>MORE

HT: DealBreaker who had two posts linking to the Fortune story:

The Rehabilitation of Brian Hunter

This Changes Everything

...A story quoted Kim saying, "We are confident that Brian Hunter will be vindicated." Then the site added its own editorial comment: "Or he will hang himself in his cell." No wonder Hunter's wife gets upset. "I have to keep her off Google," says Hunter.

*Here are our posts (we really are junkies for this kind of thing) on Amaranth, first his latest venture, then the chronology:

ENERGY: Brian Hunter Helps Deliver 49% Return for Hedge Fund

Here are our prior posts on Amaranth (oldest first):


The long arms of Enron reach beyond the grave

NYMEX Issues Statement Regarding Wall Street Journal Article

U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Charges Hedge Fund Amaranth and its Former Head Energy Trader, Brian Hunter, with Attempted Manipulation of...

NYMEX Issues Statement Regarding CFTC Enforcement Action Against Amaranth Advisors and Brian Hunter

Attention Attorneys: Green Business Opportunity

Amaranth: Hunter Planning Career in Stand Up Comedy

FERC seeks $291 mln for Amaranth manipulation

Amaranth: In All Fairness...

Amaranth and Hunter at the WSJ Online Journal

Amaranth Fine May Signal More U.S. Futures Regulation

Court: FERC Can Persue Amaranth

Amaranth Sues JPMorgan for Disrupting Transactions

Amaranth Veterans Said to Lose 15% at New Fund

Moore Capital Closes Canadian Unit Following Losses (Amaranth)

Attempting the Reverse Amaranth

Saracen Attempts the Reverse Amaranth and...Yes!... Sticks the Faceplant Landing!

Brian Hunter, Natural Gas and Enron