Hedge Funds Getting Through The Credit Crunch of 2008

April 15, 2008 James Heinsman Hedge Fund News

Bridgewater Associates comment on the credit crunch effecting the hedge funds;

For the most part, hedge funds have gotten through the credit crunch relatively unscathed. For example, the average hedge fund generated a return of 12.5% last year and 2.5% in the fourth quarter. And private equity funds generated an average return of 11%. The main reason that these two groups held up as well as they did is because the equity market has not fallen nearly as much as the bond markets (i.e., spreads), and the majority of the risk allocation of these funds is in the equity market. And because their performance held up, they have not been forced into much asset liquidation to speak of. But stock market action is beginning to pressure the hedge funds and private equity players.

Hedge funds used to be a lot more hedged than they are today. Today, just about anyone who wants higher fees based on total return calls themselves a hedge fund, even if they are just a buyer of assets. And the fat cash flow yields in global stocks have also attracted a number of hedge funds into net long equity positions. As a result, hedge funds are now heavily long the equity market. Based on fund by fund holdings data we estimate that hedge funds are net long about $150 to $200 billion in U.S. equities (foreign equities are not included in this figure).

Hedge funds are also highly leveraged. Losses raise a fund’s leverage ratio, which requires asset liquidations to bring the leverage ratio back to normal.

Bridgewater credit crunch,

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