Friday, March 6, 2009

they shoot hedge managers, don't they?

Another manager tells me a story about Morgan Stanley’s annual hedge-fund conference at the Breakers, in Palm Beach, which was held the last week of January. In years past, every hedge-fund manager wanted a plum spot on a panel, so they could present themselves to prospective investors. This year, Morgan had to beg its clients to participate. Managers were reluctant not because they didn’t want—or need—the money, but because “no one wanted to be subject to a Q&A from strangers about why we all suck so bad,” as this manager put it. And those who worried were right to do so. “It was open warfare,” he says. He adds that the attitude from wealthy families was “Who are these bourgeois pigs who ripped us off?”

Another manager describes the mood at the Breakers as “pure, unbridled anger.” A source says one foreign investor at the conference declared, “These hedge-fund managers are like the Somali pirates!”—and he wasn’t kidding.

‘I think I know a few names I’d like to be callin you meself.”

Lady from Shanghai, the most realistic film ever made about the species of hybrid – half hyena, half spider – which composes the upper .01 percent. A zona film for zeks.

‘And you know, there wasn’t one of them sharks in the whole crazy pack that survived.”

‘In a way, hedge funds were eating one another alive. As managers sold their positions, some discovered, as one manager puts it, that “all our names were owned by the same guys. We had become the market. When I ran for the exits, all the buyers who should have been there were doing the same.” During the third quarter, a Goldman Sachs index which tracks stocks that are heavily owned by hedge funds lost 19 percent, more than twice the decline of the S&P 500, while another Goldman Sachs index that tracks stocks which hedge funds were likely to sell short actually gained 2.4 percent, according to a Cambridge Associates LLC report. “Hedge funds were shooting at each other,” says one manager, meaning that some funds would make bets against stocks that were heavily owned by other managers.”

Warning: the VF article has a feel good establishment ending, which rather spoils the course. After all, who respects the rich more than VF? Titus Andronicus knew not to serve optimism at the table when you are going for an all around barbecue, but these people are served up and then all their sins are forgiven. Meritocrats, really. The writer even writes of the 'hard-earned' money that went into the hedgies. Hard earned. Hard earned. The guy up on the corner, sitting there with a sign about his service to the country and all I got was this lousy mental disease that the VHA doesn’t recognize, begging for quarters, is earning his money hard. And it didn’t go to no stinkin’ hedge fund. Meanwhile, the idea that last year was just a bad year, and hedge funds are coming back? A dream that even the VF gated community is beginning to doubt. Oh, honey, it wasn’t all a dream! Welcome to reality.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It is not only the hedge fund managers but also the fund of fund managers who fell asleep at the job. If you allocate to 10 funds who have the exact same basic strategy, you are't helping your investors. In essence the industry became a "rinse and repeat" exercise where many profited from copycatting others. The next wave of hedge fund start up managers should take this as a note.