Forget about all the forecasts being made for 2010. Here's my prediction for 2015: An entirely new name – John A. Paulson – will grace the coveted top of the annual Forbes billionaires list.
And the gap between Paulson and the runner-up billionaire will be huge.
Everyone knows that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are America's – and the world's – two richest men. But the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 was not kind to either of them, eradicating $17 billion of their combined net worth.
On that famed list, at No. 33, is where you'll find Paulson today. The hedge-fund manager's financial acumen led to what is now being called the "the greatest trade ever." By shorting the subprime mortgage market, Paulson & Co. Inc. generated a $15 billion gain.
Paulson's personal net worth of $6 billion is impressive in its own right. But over the next several years, I believe that Paulson's trading savvy will vault him into the top spot.
And the vehicle that will take him there is gold.