Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates LP, boasts 15 percent annualized returns over two decades for his main hedge fund and 25.3 percent this year (through Aug. 31) amid extraordinary economic turmoil. He runs more money than any of his macro rivals.
These are the sort of distinctions that have landed him on Bloomberg Markets magazine’s first annual list of the 50 Most Influential in global finance.
Dalio also turns out to be an interesting character, making his money based on a set of investment principles (which he won’t share) and running his firm based on a set of management principles (which he does).
The Bloomberg Markets LIST has 49 more fascinating folk. We have defined our 50 as the people who matter most in global finance: those whose comments move markets; whose deals set the value of companies or securities; whose ideas and policies shape corporations, governments and economies. We have focused on people who matter right now rather than those who have been influential over the course of a long career, although some clearly meet both criteria. (For a slide show of the Most Influential 50, click here.)
Influence isn’t something that can be measured with a single yardstick. We used several. We canvassed Bloomberg News’s global network of reporters and editors, located in 146 bureaus. We examined how often a person’s name appears in news stories on the Bloomberg Professional service. We consulted the rankings that Bloomberg Markets publishes over the course of each year, such as our features on the most-accurate economic forecasters and most-profitable hedge funds.
There are episodes in which clout is on display for all to see. Such was the case when Jamie Dimon, at a bankers’ conference in Atlanta in June, questioned Ben S. Bernanke about the possible harm of the financial regulations and higher capital standards the government is imposing. Who but Dimon has the stature to challenge a Federal Reserve chairman in that way?
Like the markets themselves, influence can be fickle. Christine Lagarde, already a force in the European sovereign-debt crisis as France’s finance minister, increased her stature when she became managing director of the International Monetary Fund. The job came open only because of the fall from grace of her countryman, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who had been accused of attacking a hotel maid in New York.
Economist Martin Feldstein, a deficit hawk for four decades, finds himself at the center of the political debate over budget austerity that has swept across the developed world. And yet the former adviser to President Ronald Reagan is also seeing that some of his tax proposals are getting a better reception from Democrats than from fellow Republicans.
Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, perhaps best known outside his country for his 27-story home in Mumbai (with three helipads and a 50-seat movie theater), embodies the rise of emerging markets in the past decade. After patching up a feud with his brother Anil, Mukesh is being courted by politicians and investment bankers alike -- a sign that he, like the 49 other people on our list, has secured a place among the world’s most influential.