Falcone, 46, has been dubbed the "Midas of misery" for taking lucrative short positions in the shares of struggling banks including HBOS and Wachovia. He lives in a 27-room townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side bought for $49m. The youngest of nine children, he grew up in Minnesota and was a young ice hockey star dubbed "the phantom" for his ability to elude defenders.
The Boy Wonder
As a Harvard University student Griffin installed a satellite dish on his dorm to help him trade options. His Citadel Investment Group, founded in 1990, has 1,200 staff and was tipped as the next Goldman Sachs, but its two main funds have lost 35% of their value in the market turmoil. Griffin, 40, was a high-profile donor to the presidential campaign of fellow Chicago resident Barack Obama.
Born in 1938, Simons was a maths prodigy. He worked as a codebreaker for the US defence department in the 1970s and set up his Renaissance Technologies fund, which has some $20bn under management, in 1988. Known as a "black box" fund, it uses opaque quantitative techniques. Its core Medallion fund rose 49% in the year to September. Simons has a $600m charitable foundation.
The Sub-Prime King
Low-profile Paulson made $3.7bn last year betting against sub-prime mortgages. A 52-year-old father of two, he was raised in the New York borough of Queens, gained an MBA from Harvard and has a $41m lakeside retreat in the Hamptons. His firm, Paulson & Co, manages $35bn and its advisers include Alan Greenspan. Reports suggest a bumper year, with the firm’s main funds rising by between 15% and 25%.