Best/Worst Trade Fund League Tables Behavioral Finance List of Crises Synopses on Crises
Top 5 Trades

Morgan Stanley - Howie Hubler

Reported Loss - $9 billion

Societe Generale - Jerome Kerviel

Reported Loss - $7 billion

Amaranth - Brian Hunter

Reported Loss - $6.5 billion

JPMorgan Chase - Bruno Iksil (London Whale)

Reported Loss - $6.2 billion

LTCM - John Meriwether

Reported Loss - $4.8 billion

Paulson & Co

Reported Gain - $15 billion

Pershing Square Capital

Reported Gain - $2 billion

Pershing Square Capital and Fairholme Capital

Reported Gain - $1.6 billion

Scott Bessent and George Soros

Reported Gain - $1.2 billion

George Soros

Reported Gain - $1 billion

Jesse Livemore

Between 1923 -1929, Market Euphoria reigned with many speculators investing on margin. Jesse Livermore proceeded to short the market in 1929, resulting in profit of $100 million dollars.

Reported Gain - $100 million
The 1929 Crash and the $100 Million Profit (Benzinga)
Who Made Money in the 1929 Stock Market Crash? (Straight Dope)

Bankhaus Herstatt - Dany Dattel

Dattel initially profited on Mark/Euro bets as the "Bretton Woods" system collapsed. However he and his team continued to place forex bets that ended up costing the bank hundreds of millions of dollars. Dattel tried to recover by increasing his bets and hiding losses from the management, but this resulted in further losses.

Reported Loss - $180 million
Rogue Traders and Risk Culture (BNP Paribas)
The Collapse of Herstatt Bank (RTFX)
Herstatt Bank (Wikipedia)1973

Hunt Brothers

The Hunt brothers tried to corner the world silver market by entering into futures contracts and buying physical silver simultaneously, eventually owning 77% of the world's silver. The SEC stepped in and wound down the contracts, driving the silver prices back down. The Hunt brothers ended up losing 50% of their assets.

Reported Loss - $1.5 billion
Hunt Brothers' Attempt to Corner the Silver Market (Traders Log)
Hunt Brothers & 1980 Silver Short Squeeze (You Should Buy Gold)
Hunt Brothers Demanded Physical Delivery Too (Monetary Future)1980

Tudor Investment Corp - Paul Tudor Jones

The morning of Black Monday, Jones shorted futures and bought them back on that afternoon. The fund's return in 1987 was 200%.

Reported Gain - $100 million
Paul Tudor Jones, 33 (Crains NY)
The Best Things Paul Jones Said about Trading (Business Insider)

Quantum Fund - George Soros

The market crash of October 1987 caught Soros unprepared. When he tried to prevent further losses by selling a majority of futures held by Quantum Fund, the market recovered quickly and caused further losses to the portfolio.

Reported Loss - $850 million
Soros Fund Management LLC History (Funding Universe)
Explaining the 1987 Crash and Potential Implications (Lope)
The Winning Investment Habits of Buffett & Soros (Google Books)1987

Banker's Trust - Andy Kreiger

Black Monday's aftershocks led to traders to bidding on non-US currencies. Krieger took the other side and focused on the Kiwi (NZD), shorting the entire money supply of New Zealand. The Kiwi sold-off 5% in a single day with 10% intra-day fluctuations. BT profited about $300 million.

Reported Gain - $300 million
Two Biggest Currency Raids in History (Vantage Point Trading)
The Greatest Currency Trades Ever Made (Investopedia)

Merrill Lynch - Howard A. Rubin

When the rising interest rates started eroding the value of his bond portfolio, Rubin placed unauthorized bets on mortgage-backed securities speculating that the interest rates would turn around, but the rates continued to increase, resulting in painful losses for Merrill.

Reported Loss - $250 million
Merrill Lynch Has Bond Loss of $250 Million (LA Times)
Howard Rubin Merrill Lynch Trading Debacle 1987 (Madoff Fraud)
Anatomy of a Staggering Loss (NY Times)1987

Moore Capital Management - Louis Bacon

Louis Bacon correctly anticipated that Saddam Hussein would invade Kuwait and profited as he was long oil and short stocks. His hedge fund finished up 86% that year.

Louis Bacon: The Macro Master (Hedge Think)
Too Big to Profit, a Hedge Fund Plans to Get Smaller (Dealbook)
How Bacon Became a Secretive Billionaire (Business Insider)1990

George Soros

George Soros speculated Britain's joining of ERM would temporarily overvalue the GBP. He shorted GBP and "broke" the Bank of England.

Reported Gain - $1 billion
Two Biggest Currency Raids in History (Vantage Point Trading)
How George Soros Shorted the Pound (Business Insider)

Quantum Fund - Stan Druckenmiller

Druckenmiller profitted initially from betting on the Mark depreciating after the fall of the Berlin Wall, then switched to a bullish position and profited as it rallied in 1989. He longed the Mark again when Soros "broke" the Bank of England and also profited from the British stock rally.

The Greatest Currency Trades Ever Made (Investopedia)
Global Macro Investing (Magnum Funds)

Codelco - Juan Pablo Davila

Davila mistakenly entered sell orders instead of buy orders for Copper, resulting in $30 million losses. In an attempt to recover the losses, Davila entered copper futures contracts 1800 times larger than his authorized daily limit, the trade went awry and losses compounded exponentially.

Reported Loss - $206.8 million
Trader Is Accused in Chile (NY Times)
Top 10 Rogue Traders (Daily Business Post)
Metals Trader's Gambling Spree Has Chile Riled (LA Times)1993

Showa Shell Sekiyu

The Japanese oil refiner and distributor speculated the US dollar would rise against yen. For four years, losses piled up, totaling 13% of Showa Shell Sekiyu's total assets.

Reported Loss - $1.52 billion
Forex Losses in Japan (EBSCO)
Foreign-Exchange Prediction and Hedging Tools (Giddy)
A Little Perspective on a Large Problem (Milken Institute)1993

Metallgesellschaft - Heinz Schimmelbusch

Mettalgesellschaft issued long-term oil forwards and hedged the position with short-term futures and swaps. Oil plummetted and short term futures contracts were marked down, while gains from forward contracts could not be realized until the maturity. The company became insolvent and was sold to a much smaller competitor.

Reported Loss - $1.3 billion
Derivatives Can Be Hazardous to Your Health (Columbia)
Metallgesellschaft and Its Hedging Program (Anastasia Kartasheva)
Risk Management Case Study: Metallgesellschaft (Finance Train)1993

Barings Bank - Nick Leeson

Trying to cover for a junior trader's losses, Leeson placed massive bets against volatility in the Japanese markets, but the Kobe earthquake caused devastating losses for Barings Bank. Leeson hid his losses in a separate account named "88888" to avoid auditors discovering the losses. Leeson's trades led to the insolvency of Barings.

Reported Loss - $1.4 billion
Nick Leeson & the Collapse of Barings Bank (Bubble Bubble)
Business: The Economy How Leeson Broke the Bank (BBC News)
Nick Leeson Tells How He Bought Down Barings Bank (

Askin Capital management - David Askin

In order to maintain risk neutral investment strategies with high-liquidity and low-leverage, Askin placed massive positions in PO strips of CMOs. However, when the interests rates, especially the short-term rates increased in 1994, the value of PO strips fell and liquidity in the market disappeared as buyers of esoteric MBS pulled out of the market. The fund filed for bankruptcy.

Reported Loss - $600 million
Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (Implode)
Credit Derivatives and Synthetic Structures (Google Books)
Founder of Askin Agrees to Settlement of S.E.C. Charges (NY Times)1994

Kidder, Peabody & Co. - Joseph Jett

Hired as a government bond trader specializing in STRIPS arbitrage trading, Jett duped the computing system at Kidder Peabody by continuously forward rolling the loss-leading trades to make them appear as if he made tremendous gains. When the settlement occurred, the trades recorded massive losses.

Reported Loss - $85.415 million
Joseph Jett's False Trade (Investopedia)
Kidder Scandal Tied to Failure of Supervision (NY Times)
Trading Scandal at Kidder Peabody (Finance Train)1994

Orange County - Robert Citron

In the early 1990's when the interest rates were dropping, Citron successfully recorded 8% returns for the county, higher than the average bond mutual fund return of 7%. However he used excessive leverage and when the interest rates began to rise, losses began to mount. The loss was so severe that it led Orange County to file for bankruptcy.

Reported Loss - $1.6 billion
Robert Citron's Role in Bankruptcy (Investopedia)
Citron Was a Hard-To-Hate Villain in O.C.'s Bankruptcy (OC Register)
The Culprits of Orange County (Fortune)1994

Kashima Oil - Hachiro Obata

The Japanese oil company had booked massive unrealized losses on its forward oil contracts by 1988. To make up for the losses, Kashima made speculative bets on JPY/USD forex derivatives trades and increased its holdings of U.S. dollars. However, when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the dollars plunged and Kashima had to cover for the losses by selling off Naphtha inventory.

Reported Loss - $1.45 billion
The Biggest Forex Trading Losses of All Time (4X Currency)
A Summary of Reviewed Case Studies Finance Essay (UK Essays)
Japan's Kashima Oil to Sell Naphtha Tanks to Cover Losses (JOC)1994

Quantum Fund - George Soros

Soros held $8 billion short position in JPY as he expected the Japanese economy to grow, causing reduction in trade surplus and driving down the value of the yen. The trades had to be unwound as the Yen spiked when trade talks between the Japanese and Americans dissolved.

Reported Loss - $600 million
Soros Had a Huge Investment Shorting the German Mark (Olesia)
Money Speculator Soros Weathers $600-Million Blow (LA Times)
A $600 Million Miscalculation (NY Times)1994

Sumitomo - Yasuo Hamanaka

Hamanaka was an influential trader in control of 5% of the world copper market, who eventually cornered the world copper market in attempt to keep the copper prices high for nearly a decade. However, the copper market fell when China aggressively boosted its copper mining projects.

Reported Loss - $2.6 billion
Who Is Mr. Copper? (Investopedia)
Trading Scandal at Sumitomo Causes $1.9 Billion Loss (NY Times)
Sumitomo Corporation (Rutter Associates)1996

Long-Term Capital Management - John Meriwether

LTCM was operating a highly leveraged portfolio. In 1998 when it had heavy long positions in Russian MBS markets, the Russian government devalued Russian Roubles and declared a moratorium on its Treasury debt. Investors fled and liquidity evaporated. A rescue package was developed by the US government and banks to help unwind LTCM's trades.

Reported Loss - $4.8 billion
Case Study: LTCM (Bauer)
HF Almost Caused a Global Financial Meltdown (Business Insider)
LTCM CEO John Meriwether Asks for Money (DeLong's)1998

Tiger Management - Julian Robertson

Robertson maintained his investment strategy of longing the "best" stocks and shorting the "worst" stocks. When the market turned irrational during the dot-com bubble, Robertson longed "old economy" companies, which massively underperformed as tech companies soared.

Julian Robertson: Eye of the Tiger (Insider Monkey)
Tiger Management Closes (CNN Money)

Manhattan Investment Fund - Michael Berger

Berger shorted the overvalued equities during the dot-com bubble, resulting in massive losses. Berger attempted to hide the losses but Bear Stearns, the fund's prime broker, complained to the SEC and the losses were revealed.

Reported Loss - $400 million
The Greatest Financial Scandals (Businessweek)
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Berger (Find Law)
In Re Manhattan Investment Fund Ltd. (Chapter 11 Cases)1999

Templeton Asset Management - John Templeton

John Templeton shorted dozens of tech companies at the height of the dot-com bubble, calling it "the easiest money he ever made."

Reported Gain - $80 million
How to Find the Road Map to Spiritual Wealth (Investment U)

BAWAG and Refco - Wolfgang Flöttl and Helmut Elsner

BAWAG had 10% stake in the futures trader Refco. Although Refco made profits for the first three years, it lost $600 million in 1998 when it made speculative bets on JPY/USD. The losses grew to EUR 1.4 billion, while Elsner and Flöttl attempted to hide the losses.

Reported Loss - $1.29 billion
The BAWAG Banking Scandal (SSRN)
Refco Banker Elsner, Flottl Convicted in Bawag Case (Bloomberg)
BAWAG Bankers Sentenced to Years (Austrian Times)2000

Kynikos Investments

Chanos shorted Enron by focusing on accounting irregularities and its labyrinth of off-balance sheet entities. Enron's stock eventually dropped from $90 to less than $1 a share.

Q&A With Jim Chanos (Business Insider)
Prepared Statement (SEC)

Peninsula - Ted Weschler

In 2001, W.R. Grace went bankrupt under the weight of asbestos litigation. Weschler bought 16% of the float at an average price of $2.54. In 2007, he reached out to the plantiffs and reached a settlement. The investment increased 40-fold.

Weschler Leads to Role Advising Buffett (Bloomberg)
W.R. Grace Stock Soars on Hope of Asbestos Deal (Odd Lot)

Allfirst Bank - John Rusnak

Following the burst of the Japanese bubble, Rusnak was so bullish on JPY that he made investments without incorporating any hedging strategy. When a series of policy changes in Asia caused a long slide for Asian currencies, Rusnak disguised losses as gains by entering false option hedges into the system, and subsequently doubled his long position on JPY and entered into complex currency derivatives. When the bank demanded easing of its balance sheet from being skewed towards the forex market, the losses were reavealed.

Reported Loss - $691 million
How Did John Rusnak Hide $691 Million in Losses (Investopedia)
Rogue Trader Lost $750 Million in Unauthorized Deals (WSJ)
Forex Trading and Rogue Trader John Rusnak (Villanova U)2002

Andor Capital - Dan Benton

Benton was short tech stocks in 2003 when the stocks rose. By the end of the year, Benton changed his view on the market and flipped his portfolio into a bullish position, but the market soon declined. Andor finished 2003 down 15.7%.

Reported Loss - $800 million
Andor Capital Took a 16% Hit in 2003 (TheStreet)
Andor Fund Drops Nearly 16% in '03 (Institutional Investor)
Andor Capital on a Rough Year (The Street)2003

Bank of Montreal - David Lee

BMO engaged in massive speculative trading through Lee's natural gas options portfolio. Although the bank recorded earnings for years, the options portfolio began to record losses due to excessive speculation. Top ranking officers at the bank helped Lee cover up the losses, but it only led to further deepening of losses.

Reported Loss - $638 million
CFTC Charges David P. Lee with Fraud (CFTC)
U.S. Regulators Charge Ex-Bank of Montreal Trader (Reuters)
Preaching to the Choir (Trader Elvis)2003

China Aviation Oil - Chen Jiulin

Under Jiulin's leadership, CAO had grown over 5000 times of its original value. After converting CAO into an investment company, Jiulin placed massive option trades on international oil markets. When the oil prices began to rise, CAO's trading accounts turned sour, and was ordered by its parent company CAOHC to close its positions, resulting in enormous losses.

Reported Loss - $550 million
China Aviation Oil (Prima)
Chen Jiulin (Wikipedia)
Dissolve Mystery of China Aviation Oil (People's Daily Online)2004

Centaurus Energy- John Arnold

In 2006, Brian Hunter, a "star" trader at Amaranth Advisors bought future contracts of natural gas, repeating the trade which worked well the previous year. However, this time the price of natural gas plummeted, creating $6.6B in losses and the eventual wind down of Amaranth. John Arnold took the other side and profitable considerably.

Reported Gain - $1 billion
The Best Commodity Trades of All Time (Commodity HQ)

Amaranth - Brian Hunter

In 2005, Hunter was bullish on natural gas and acquired large positions in futures, which proved successful as hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf. He made similar bets in 2006 but natural gas prices dropped. To cover his losses, Hunter attempted to manipulate the futures market to unload his positions at higher prices by "banging the close."

Reported Loss - $6.5 billion
Trading's 6 Biggest Losers (Investopedia)
Amaranth Brian Hunter (HF Blogspot)
Brian Hunter: Amaranth Rogue Trader (Scott E.D. Skyrm)2006

Paulson & Co - John Paulson, Scion Capital - Michael Burry

In 2007, John Paulson shorted subprime mortgages and associated banks, while buying CDS. He made over $4bn personally and over $15B for his fund.

Reported Gain - $15 billion
Trader Made Billions on Subprime (WSJ)
Michael Burry (Wiki)
John Paulson's Greatest Trade Ever (Newsweek)2007

Sadia - Adriano Ferreira and Álvaro Ballejo

Sadia held large short positions in USD through dollar futures contracts when Lehman Brothers fell in September 2008. As a result, USD rose and caused massive losses on Sadia's portfolio.

Reported Loss - $890 million
Brazil's Sadia Has 4th Quarter Loss on Forex Derivatives (Reuters)
CFO Who Laid Low Brazil's Sadia: Blame It on Lehman (ADVFN)

Citigroup - Andrew Hall

In 2003, oil was trading at $30. Hall bought futures in the belief sharp rise in the years to come. Oil price reached $100 during 2008.

How Citi's Andrew Hall Made $100 Million Last Year (TIME)
Great Trades: Andrew Hall’s Oil Futures (Money Maker)

UBS - Kweku Adoboli

A director of UBS's Global Synthetic Equities Trading team in London, Adoboli made unauthorized trades in directional bets on EuroStoxx, DAX and S&P500 indices. As his portfolio stacked up losses, Adoboli disguised the losses by using the fact that some European ETF transactions do not require disclosure of ownership until after the settlement.

Reported Loss - $1 billion
Rise and Fall of Adoboli the ‘Family’ Man (Financial Times)
2011 UBS Rogue Trader Scandal (Wikipedia)
UBS Reveals How Rogue Trader Beat the System (Investoo)2008

Greenlight Capital - David Einhorn

In May of 2008, Einhorn shorted Lehman, accusing the company of dubious accounting practices which understated risk and leverage. Lehman went bankrupt 4 months later.

How Einhorn Became a Hedge Fund Legend (Business Insider)2008

Aracruz Celulose - Isac Zagury and Rafael Sotero

As the Brazilian Real doubled its value in four years, Aracruz increased its position on BRL by betting on futures contracts. However, the global financial crisis triggered the 34% decline in the Real/USD, and Aracruz, the largest eucalyptus pulp producer in the world, failed to cover for the losses and collapsed.

Reported Loss - $2.13 billion
The Biggest Forex Trading Losses of All Time (4X Currency)
Aracruz Fails to Settle $2.13 Billion Derivative Loss (Bloomberg)
The Failure of Risk Management for Companies (Nottingham U)2008

Pershing Square Capital and Fairholme Capital - Bill Ackman and Bruce Berkowitz

General Growth Properties (GGP) faced a liquidity crunch and eventually filed for Chapter 11 on April 2009. Ackman enlisted the help of Bruce Berkowitz who was instrumental in adding buying power and helped to persuade the company during its restructuing. Ackman's original purchase price of GGP was $0.35.

Reported Gain - $1.6 billion
How to Invest Like Bill Ackman (NASDAQ)
The Logic Behind Bill Ackman's Purchase of GGP (Seeking Alpha)
Ackman’s GGP Sale Marks End of Investment Era (Bloomberg)2008

CITIC Pacific - Leslie Li-hsien Chang

CITIC Pacific's Hong Kong arm owned majority stakes in Australian steel and infrastructure assets that financed its business with Australian dollars. Anticipating possible losses due to currency fluctuation, Chang made forex bets on Australian dollars against USD and Euros, based on the 25-year high Australian dollar's growing strength. However, when the global financial crisis struck the currency market, Australian dollars plummetted 30% against USD, and resulted in losses for the investment company.

Reported Loss - $1.89 billion
CITIC Pacific's Time Bomb (Webb-Site)
CITIC Pacific Slammed by Poor Currency Bet (Forbes)
Ackman May Make $170 Million on General Growth Bet (Bloomberg)2008

Berkshire Hathaway - Warren Buuffett

Part of his "Buy America" trade, Buffett purchased $5 billion worth of perpetual preferred shares of Goldman Sachs at a 10% yield. The five-year Goldman warrants gave Berkshire an opportunity to buy its shares at half of the price during its 2007 peak.

5 Top Investors Who Profited from the Recession (Investopedia)
Warren Buffett Makes an Offer Goldman Sachs Can't Refuse (WSJ)

Societe Generale - Jerome Kerviel

Kerviel took liberties beyond his responsibiliy to hedge index positions and made a EUR 1.4 billion directional bet for the bank up in 2007. The trade turned sour during the global financial crisis, and caused losses for the bank. Kerviel avoided the monitoring of the management by deleting his transaction records from the system, and fooled everyone to think his performance was relatively flat.

Reported Loss - $7 billion
Trading's 6 Biggest Losers (Investopedia)
Who Are You Jerome Kerviel? (WSJ)
Jerome Kiervel-Societe Generale Case (HG Legal Source)2008

Morgan Stanley - Howie Hubler

Before the outbreak of the 2007 crisis, managers who expected the market to go south often ran out of cash due to large amount of insurance premiums they had to pay in order to maintain their CDO positions. Hubler at Morgan Stanley, however, wanted to unburden such pressure and decided to sell off some of the holdings by shorting BBB CDOs while keeping his long position in AAA CDOs. When the market started crashing, BBB CDOs got cashed out first, and ended up costing Morgan Stanley.

Reported Loss - $9 billion
The Magnetar Trade (Reuters)
Morgan Stanley, $9 Billion (TIME)
After $9 Billion Loss, Trader Revives Career (WSJ)2008

Appaloosa Management - David Tepper

During February and March in 2009, Tepper bought BoA shares for less than $3 and Citigroup preferred shares for less than $1 amid rumors of nationalization. Markets normalized and Appaloosa Management booked a 120% profit.

Reported Gain - $1 billion
Fund Boss Made $7 Billion in the Panic (Yahoo)
Tepper Turns Panic to Profits With $6.5 Billion Gain (Bloomberg)2009

Scott Bessent and George Soros

Based on his belief that the Yen would decline as a result of Japan's attempt to boost its economy by using aggressive monetary stimulus, Scott Bessent shorted the Yen and bought Japanese stocks leading to a $1.2 billion profit for the firm.

Reported Gain - $1.2 billion
Soros Makes $1.2 Billion Betting Against Yen (The Guardian)
Guess Who Made $1+ Billion Betting Against the Yen (Blaze)2012

JPMorgan Chase - Bruno Iksil (London Whale)

When JPM decided to reduce risks in the London swaps portfolio by placing offsetting positions in the Synthetic Credit Portfolio, the strategy ended up levering up the portfolio with massive complex derivatives that it began disrupting the synthetic credit market. Management at J.P. Morgan was aware of the risky positions, but did not properly account for problems and let the losses triple.

Reported Loss - $6.2 billion
The London Whale (Bloomberg)
Bruno Iksil to Avoid Charges over JPMorgan $6.2 Billion Loss (RT)
Report of JPMorgan Management Task Force (JPM)2012

Tudor, Caxton and Moore

"Abe Trade" - Abe, Japan's prime minister ushered in a wave of economic and monetary reforms, inspiring traders to short Yen and long Japanese equities.

‘Abe Trade’ Revives Macro Hedge Funds (Financial Times)

Dromeus Greek Advantage Fund

After the Greek economy collapse, Dromeus Capital Group saw an investing opportunity in the Greek market. It launched the Dromeus Greek Advantage fund in November 2012 and bet on the recovery of Greek assets. The fund gained 107% in its first 12 months.

Greece Focused Hedge Fund Up 40% in 2012 (Opalesque)
Greek Focused Hedge Fund Up 107% in Its First Year (Hedgeweek)

Pershing Square Capital Management - Bill Ackman

Since February 2014, Bill Ackman accumulated 28.8 million shares of Allergan with an average price of $127/share in an effort to take over Allergan with Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Although Allergan rejects all of Valeant/Pershing Square's hostile takeover bids, Allergan accepts the bid from Actavis of $66 billion, or $219 per share and Bill Ackman's Pershing Square is awarded a large sum for their effort.

Reported Gain - $2 billion
Bill Ackman Has Made Over $2.2 Billion On a Deal That's Arguably a Failure (Business Insider)
Allergan Deal a Win For More Than Ackman (CNBC)

Icahn & Co. - Carl Icahn

In June 24, 2015, Carl Icahn tweets that his firm sold its last stake in Netflix, making it one of the most lucrative trades of the decade. Icahn first bought Netflix in 2012 when the stock traded at $58 a share, and has since soared to over $650 a share when he sold his last stake in the company.

Reported Gain - $1.6 billion
Carl Icahn’s Netflix Wager with His Son (Yahoo)
Icahn Sells Netflix Stock Near Record Highs (MarketWatch)
For Carl Icahn, It's Splitsville With Netflix 2015