'Low-Hanging Fruit'?

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Miles of choice words, some unprintable, have been published about those wonderful financial wizards who dreamed up and distributed all the toxic securities that set the stage for the ongoing financial meltdown.

But what about the legions of well-meaning investors and traders who bet wrong - who bought MBS or CDOs too soon, or took equity stakes or sold credit protection in institutions such as Fannie Mae or AIG or Lehman Brothers at what only looked like bargain-basement valuations?

Do their disastrous blunders make these stolid individuals fair targets for verbal abuse, and perhaps worse?

Andrew Lahde thinks so. In a farewell letter to investors in his hugely profitable hedge fund, the 37-year old trader referred to those who took the opposite side of his trades as, "the low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale and then the Harvard MBA."

"All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy," Lahde wrote, "only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other sides of my trades. God Bless America.''

Although a relatively small player in the hedge fund universe with $80 million under management, Lahde Capital Management LLC posted an eye-popping 870 percent return last year by leveraging short positions against sub-prime mortgage securities, the debt of states like California, Florida and Michigan, and other credit instruments. Last month Lahde closed down his funds and began returning his investors' money after concluding that the same credit meltdown that made his strategy a winner created too much risk that the global banks he'd been trading against might become unable to pay off their contracts with his funds in the future. Now he says he plans to spend his time "repairing" his health and his life - and apparently, agitating to legalize marijuana.

What do you think? Is Lahde justified in labeling the wide swath of the finance industry that ended up on the wrong side of his trades, as "idiots," who were often "truly not worthy of the education they received" thanks to help from their "rich parents"?

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