Remember this past March, when we were all sitting at our desks — those of us that still had desks, anyway — gripped with fear as shares of once-robust financial institutions like Citigroup and Bank of America* rapidly sank to unprecedented lows of 99 cents, our minds filled with apocalyptic visions: rioting, breadlines, using our grandmother's jewelry to bribe unsavory characters to smuggle us off the island? Even as we indulged in the panic, there was a part of us whispering: "There's no way that things are really going to get that bad. Maybe I should buy this stuff." But most of us were too nervous, unlike David Tepper, a New Jersey–based trader who made $7 billion doing precisely that. Per The Wall Street Journal:
Day after day, Mr. Tepper bought Bank of America Corp. shares, then trading below $3, and Citigroup Inc. preferred shares, when that stock was under $1. One of his investors insisted more carnage loomed. Friends who shared his bullish beliefs were wary of aping his moves amid speculation that the government was about to nationalize the big banks. "I felt like I was alone," Mr. Tepper recalls. On some days, he says, "no one was even bidding."
What gave him such confidence? Faith in the United States government and the markets, of course. Also, his brass balls.
No really, he has brass balls. From time to time, when things get rough, he strokes them. WSJ:
Mr. Tepper keeps a brass replica of a pair of testicles in a prominent spot on his desk, a present from former employees. He rubs the gift for luck during the trading day to get a laugh out of colleagues.
That's the difference between us and them, right there. Well, that and the cash with which to make such a bet.
*The author does not own shares in these companies, for she is a moron.