While the economy has hit most asset managers and investors hard, the top 25 hedge funds earned a breathtaking $11.6 billion in pay last year, according to Alpha Magazine.

James H. Simons of Renaissance Technologies earned $2.5 billion, John A. Paulson took home $2 billion and George Soros pulled in $1.1 billion.

That said, in 2007, the top 25 hedge fund earners made twice as much, $22.5 billion. And to qualify as one of the top 25 earners, a hedge fund manager needed to clear $75 million, way off the $360 million that made the cut in 2007.

“Look the golden age for hedge funds is gone, but it’s still three times more lucrative that working at a mutual fund and most other places on Wall Street,” Bob Sloan, a managing partner with prime brokerage S3 Partners, told the International Herald Tribune. “But this shouldn’t pop the greed meter. They made money; that’s what they’re supposed to [do].”

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