Hedge Fund Industry | Leverage? Shorting? Transparency? Survival?

Hedge Fund Industry

Hedge Fund Industry Survival Notes

Hedge Fund IndustryHere is a short article on the hedge fund industry business model and my comments in red.

I have thought for a while that the hedge fund business model was breaking down. In fact I turned down an offer to raise capital in a hedge fund format a few weeks ago. This summer it appears that the soft white underbelly of hedge funds is being exposed as the four legs of hedge funds are being kicked out right from under the industry:
  • Leverage – hedge funds need leverage to generate excess alpha and non-correlated returns. Leverage is being removed from the system like never before for hedge funds. I'm not sure what the difference is between "excess alpha" and alpha but a fair number of hedge funds use no leverage. Both the prime brokers and use of leverage will survive these times.
  • Manipulative Short Selling – short selling is a good thing. Manipulative short selling is illegal and against the interest of shareholders. That is now going to be enforced and put to an end. Next we will have the reinstatement of the up-tick rule. It worked for 70 years but failed us in the last year. Hedge funds provide liquidity and as someone else recently noted in the news - often the short sellers are the guys in white hats which come down on bad companies.
  • Performance Fees – many funds are closing up because the managers won’t earn performance fees. This resulted in massive liquidations which are still continuing. There will always be liquidations and poor performance. Now that both are higher than usual it will hopefully rid the industry of the extra 30% of hedge fund managers who have a dream but not the right team and skills to produce long-term risk adjusted returns.
  • Lack of Transparency – The SEC took the first step in requiring hedge funds to report short positions over certain limits. Mutual Funds have to file reports with the SEC and provide shareholders with a quarterly report which is part of the SEC filing. The wall of transparency will be brought down. I don't believe it will, even if the US takes a radical stance on this issue many other countries are happy to go their own ways when it comes to regulating hedge funds. Many areas of the world are more than happy to cater to the business the United States creates for them through our strict tax and regulatory regime.
So what will happen? Eventually we will see assets flow back to more traditional forms of investment – managed accounts, mutual funds and self directed investments. I disagree - the pendulum my swing back and forth but alternative investments and hedge funds are here to stay. I believe eventually there will be less reports on the death of the industry as a whole.

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