World’s Biggest Hedge Fund Tangled in Small Town Politics

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“State and local governments are of course still significant,” reads a footnote in Ray Dalio’s “How the Economic Machine Works: A Template for Understanding What is Happening Now,” updated in March 2012.

These days, local government is anything but a footnote in the hedge fund titan’s life.

The billionaire who founded Bridgewater Associates, now the world's largest hedge fund with some the $150 billion in assets under management, is embroiled in a decidedly unglamorous battle to build a new $750 million headquarters.

The venue: Westover Magnet Elementary School in Stamford, Conn.

The event: A planning board meeting.

The rivals: Dalio vs. the day boaters.

Apparently absent, yet impacted, party: Job seekers.

Tuesday night’s tussle was pretty much the same mundane, yet heated, debate as a week ago, and it certainly won’t be the last. Stamford residents have made themselves abundantly clear: strike down a license agreement that would grant rights to more than 2.4 acres of city land for use in a new boatyard in exchange for $5 million in public improvements.

The city’s boatyard, Brewer Yacht Haven, was sold to a development company called Building and Land Technology that shuttered it and in 2011 tore down the buildings on the property, prompting a grassroots protest movement called Save Our Boatyard.

"Do not let this administration or BLT strong-arm you, or buy into their so-called misrepresentation of what this agreement will provide for the city and the taxpayers," Sea Ray owner Maureen Boylan told the packed room.

It was all nearly too much for James Cutler, an architect for Cutler Anderson who works for Bridgewater.

"It was shocking. It was the worst I've ever been treated in 20 years of public meetings. If I were a different kind of person, I would be angry," he said.

Not everyone can have a thick skin like Dalio. “I don't get caught up in the moment,” he famously said.

No reports of recent Yale grads in attendance at the public meetings. After all, the firm that prefers to pick those with an Ivy pedigree has agreed to create as many as 1,000 “high- level” jobs within 10 years, while retaining its current workforce.

Content as a Consultant (eFinancialCareers)’s new Management and Strategy Consulting Survey finds that consultants are much happier than accountants and bankers. The average rating for consulting firms, based on aforementioned employee ratings, dwarfed that of accounting and banking firms.

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