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How to Avoid a Charmed Life

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The New York Times reported last week that Federal agents arrested SAC honcho/"stock-trading wizard" Michael Steinberg for insider trading and securities fraud. (SAC is the multi-billion dollar hedge fund owned by Steinberg's multi-billionaire mentor Steven A. Cohen.) The story of how Steinberg ended up trading in his cuff links for handcuffs can serve as an object lesson to other .001 percenters living "charmed" lives.

If you think you have it all and only blue skies await, you may want to consider these warning signs of impending discharmament. (Quotes taken verbatim from the Times account.)

1. You grew up in an affluent town like Great Neck or Scarsdale -- and when you came of age, your primary concern was how to monetize your trust fund without paying taxes.

2. Your multi-billionaire boss/mentor plunks down a cool $60 mil for a Hamptons getaway while he faces possible indictment.

3. In describing your leisure activities, people use the word "summer" as a verb; even worse, they use "Hamptons" in the same sentence, as in, "He summered in the Hamptons." (Technically, you can only summer in one Hampton at a time. But if you're rich enough, the rules of physics don't apply.)

4. It takes eight figures to express your annual income even though you've been employed for just a few years and don't actually produce anything.

5. You learned the ropes from a boss/mentor whose net worth requires more digits than the sum of the digits on both your hands to express -- and who has never actually produced anything. ("Mr. Cohen and Mr. Steinberg were close.")

6. You are known for "sharing a love of art" with your multi-billionaire boss, who supplemented his Hamptons acquisition by forking over $155m for a Picasso.

7. You have a "long-term art adviser." (As opposed, I guess, to a series of short-term or medium-term ones.)

8. Your boss introduced you to said art adviser.

9. You require that your middle initial appear in all PR materials. As in "Michael S. Steinberg."

10. Media accounts of your exploits use the words "wizard," "Wall Street," "hedge" and "fund."

11. Your firm is described as having started out as "just Mr. Cohen and several dozen traders." "Just Mr. Cohen?" And merely "several dozen traders"?

12. Your firm racks up "stupendous returns year-after-year." (Shades of Bernie Madoff.)

13. You send emails that, if read by the wrong people, can send you to jail for a very long time. ("Emails from Mr. Steinberg...were included in the indictment.")

14. You think you're safe if you end those incriminating emails with "Please keep to yourself."

15. Your hedge firm hedges its bets by issuing a press release that says, "We believe him to be a man of integrity." Believe him to be?

16. You deploy the phrase "give back" when you put up a tiny fraction of your net worth to establish a foundation in your own name.

17. Scores of people you barely know refer to you as a "dear friend."

18. Your friends "always marvel" at your good fortune.

19. The word "charmed" appears next to the word "life" in your autohagiography.