Thursday, December 13, 2007
Yale University has an endowment of $22.5 Billion and has been making returns of over 20 percent a year for the last ten years. Last year it was more like 28%. But let's say 20. So that's income of over $4.4 Billion per year. But let's say 20 percent is more than anyone should expect -- so let's say ten. Ten percent of their actual return would be $440 million; ten percent of that $44 million; and ten percent of that $4.4 million. Per year. So the interest on the interest on the interest on the interest is . . . millions. Well.
It's that time of year and I have recently received a letter from both the Yale Law Fund and an email from just Yale I guess, perhaps Yale the Platonic entity. Asking me to send them money. If I send more than $5 to Yale the platonic entity, I will get my name on a list available on the web. Be still my heart. I guess it costs a little less than $5 by the time you pay union wages in New Haven to enter somebody's name in an HTML file. Though it's probably done in India somewhere. I calculate Yale is making $141 (roughly) every second, just by existing. OK, by investing in hedge funds and private equity funds you have to really rich to have even heard of. God must really appreciate the For God For Country and For Yale thing for them to be getting 28%. It's the Efficient Market Hypothesis Except for Yale I guess. This means they are making $5 dollars every 0.03 seconds. That's about how long it takes me to decide whether to send them money.
Maybe I'm missing something. Often, I see persons of apparent homelessness begging for money at intersections in the unfashionable part of the county where I reside, my investments not having worked out as I hoped. Sometimes I roll down the window and give them $5. Actually, that's not true. I never give them money. Very rarely, I think about giving them money. However, I have a good reason. I don't give them money because if I did, that would be money I would no longer have. I also think if I did, they would probably just spend it on wine or something. I sometimes see them by the Ralph's where I stop to pick up wine on the way home. You can't believe how expensive wine is these days. It's a scandal.
But these people generally look like they could use some some extra cash, some green, some spare beans, a fatter wedge, if you see what I mean. If they were stretching their hand out of new Ferrari or (like I saw the other day, being driven apparently by a member of one of the local tribes that runs gaming establishments) a rose-colored Bentley, I would think "Why TF is he asking me for money? He should be giving me money." Once, back in DC in the 1980s, there were many homeless people on the streets who would panhandle for money. It became a big issue. I took to asking them to give me money. Usually they declined, but once a guy handed me a handful of quarters. It must have been $20. I could have sent it to Yale I guess, but I just kept it. There's nothing wrong with quarters. They spend.
I have thought of asking Yale to stop writing and asking me for money. But why should I? I like getting the letters. They fill me with a kind of awe. They remind me that greatness comes to those who dare to ask for more than anyone can possibly think they deserve. They fascinate me. What can they possibly say to make me think I should send what $50, $100? to the people who are making 28% a year on $22.5 Billion? They say they need the money, which cannot be true, except in the sense of me and the beggar. I am astonished. In a way, thrilled. Rock on, Yale. Rock on.