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Monday, June 27, 2005

Hedge Funds Are Growing: Is This Good or Bad?

Some reading about hedge funds in Commodity Trader blog.

Hedge Funds Are Growing: Is This Good or Bad?
Knowledge@Wharton
One of the biggest differences between hedge funds and mutual funds: hedge funds are not required to publicly disclose their holdings. Hence, it's nearly impossible to know at any given time whether they are adding risk to the markets or reducing it.

In earlier decades, hedge funds used their freedom to hedge against risk. By holding both long and short positions, for example, they tried to make money regardless of whether the markets moved up or down. Hence, hedge funds were seen as relatively conservative investments, used to dampen the jarring ups and downs of the market. In the 1990s, however, many became more aggressive, using their freedom not to reduce risk but to embrace it in hopes of stellar gains, Marston says. That's what led to the Long-Term Capital Management collapse -- a leveraged bet, which was wrong, that historic relationships between various short- and long-term bond yields would reassert themselves.

Since hedge funds are essentially unregulated, there are no definitive statistics, but by some estimates there are about 8,000 hedge funds with combined assets of about $1 trillion, up from $400 billion in 2001. Because hedge funds can leverage, their impact on the markets is probably far larger. The mutual fund industry has about $8 trillion in assets, which cannot be leveraged.
Read further:
Commodity Trader: Hedge Funds Are Growing: Is This Good or Bad?

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