Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

Exploding Hedge Funds

Don't feel so bad if you find the stock market perplexing. Hedge fund managers, who are supposed to be geniuses about these things, demonstrated a spectacular penchant for making vast amounts of money disappear this year. There was Citadel's Ken Griffin, arguably the smartest guy in the business, puking up 47% of its main fund through November and professing to being completely flummoxed by the market's behavior. At least Citadel is still in business. Others, such as Ospraie Fund and Centaurus Capital, chose to close funds after a bad performance sent investors scampering for redemptions. Rich people have no patience for people who fail to make them richer. Tudor Investment and Fortress Investment Group, on the other hand, have barred the door by preventing investors from leaving, hoping to buy some time to fashion a rebound. There will be no such thing at what is arguably the biggest hedge fund bust, if not the biggest financial fraud ever — the $50 billion collapse of the semi-exclusive fund run by legendary investor Bernie Madoff, who it turns out, had done so well all those years because he had created his double digit returns out of thin air. Only a select few funds, such as Paulson & Co, made a bundle by shorting banks stocks and securities tied to the mortgage industry.