72 Cummings Point Road
Tthrough October 31, the average hedge fund has returned a paltry 6%, 75% below the return of the S&P 500 and the average mutual fund. And while the traditional retort: "hedge funds aren't supposed to outperform the market but to hedge downside risk" is always at the ready, the retort to that retort is that as long as Mr. Yellen is Chief Risk Officer for the S&P, and the Federal Reserve is engaged in QE and otherwise generating a "wealth effect", which according to many will be in perpetuity or until the Fed finally and mercifully is abolished, the purpose behind the existence of hedge funds is simply no longer there as the Fed will never again voluntarily allow the kind of market drop that would make the existence of hedge funds meaningful.
Goodbye sweet blue-eyed prince. It's been bittersweet. Just out from Bloomberg and Reuters:
- SAC CAPITAL ADVISORS INDICTED BY FEDERAL GRAND JURY IN NEW YORK
- COHEN'S HEDGE FUND, SUBORDINATES SUBJECT OF CRIMINAL INQUIRY
- U.S. SEEKS TO FORCE SAC TO FORFEIT ILLEGAL PROFITS STEMMING FROM FRAUD
- U.S. SAYS THAT FROM ROUGHLY 1999 TO 2010, SAC OBTAINED AND TRADED ON INSIDE INFORMATION TO BOOST RETURNS, FEES
Perhaps now is a good time to retreat to the hockey rink behind 9 feet of electrified fence, before the TV newsvans arrive at 72 Cummings Point road. As for what happens to the 5-10% of daily NYSE volume traditionally associated with the SAC, we will find out soon enough.
A quiet day unfolding with just Chicago Fed permadove on the wires today at 1pm, following some early pre-Japan market fireworks in the USDJPY and the silver complex, where a cascade of USDJPY margin calls, sent silver to its lowest in years as someone got carted out feet first following a forced liquidation. This however did not stop the Friday ramp higher in the USDJPY from sending the Nikkei225, in a delayed response, to a level surpassing the Dow Jones Industrial Average for the first time in years. Quiet, however, may be just how the traders at 72 Cummings Point Road like it just in case they can hear the paddy wagons approach, following news that things between the government and SAC Capital are turning from bad to worse and that Stevie Cohen, responsible for up to 10-15% of daily NYSE volume, may be testifying before a grand jury soon. The news itself sent S&P futures briefly lower when it hit last night, showing just how influential the CT hedge fund is for overall market liquidity in a world in which the bulk of market "volume" is algos collecting liquidity rebates and churning liquid stocks back and forth to one another.
First it was Citi, then SocGen, now a third key investor has decided to pull their money from SAC - the once vaunted hedge fund which now everyone is now avoiding like the plague, and for which the only question now is "when" - when will Stevie close down shop, and will this happen before or after the paddywagons finally arrive at 72 Cummings Point road. The WSJ reports: "Titan Advisors LLC recently told clients that it had decided to withdraw its entire investment from SAC, said clients who received phone calls from Titan. "They've told us they still think SAC is a good firm but Titan doesn't need the headline risk, and we sure don't," said Tom Taneyhill, executive director of the Fire & Police Employees' Retirement System of the City of Baltimore, on Friday. Société Générale SA, which has client money in SAC through its Lyxor asset-management arm, also decided to pull its money from SAC, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. At the time, an SAC spokesman declined to comment. Titan's departure is significant given SAC's long-standing relationship with one of Titan's founders. Titan co-founder George Fox began investing in SAC in the mid-90s, several years after Mr. Cohen started what became the firm in 1992."
It turns out the topic of today's much expected conference call originating at 72 Cummings Point Road Stamford, is what many already knew yesterday, namely that the SEC has warned SAC that after years and years of pursuits, the enforcer is finally getting close in for the kill, and has sent a Wells Notice, usually a first step before civil charges are filed.
- SAC SAID TO TELL CLIENTS IT GOT WELLS NOTICE FROM SEC LAST WEEK
The notice will be filed against the holdco, implying Cohen himself will be implicated, instead of just the CR Intrinsic OpCo where Martoma worker. Usually the SEC does not file Wells Notices without sufficient backing, so this may finally get interesting. But we are not holding our breath. One needs to simply recall how the SEC bungled its CDS insider trading case vs Millennium and Deutsche to see how the endgame here could well be another epic humiliation for the soon to be Schapro-less regulator.
The days of SAC's 3 and 50 fee structure appear to be rapidly coming to a close (as well as possibly the front doors to 72 Cummings Point road). In what is certainly a harbinger of capital flows from (instead of to for the first time in decades) the legendary and now infamous hedge fund, Institution Investor reports that "at least one well known investor in hedge funds has confirmed that he has requested to redeem his investment in SAC in light of recent reports of probes into the Greenwich, Connecticut-based firm. The investor, who requested anonymity, does emphasize that SAC “has the number one compliance department in the industry.” Nonetheless, recent reports swirling around the firm have led him to request to pull out his clients’ money. “We don’t want to be fickle,” says the manager. “We hate doing this. But, the government seems so intent now in getting them and there are additional SAC-related characters tainted. Some dealt with the same stocks at SAC." And so the expert network insider trading ring, first exposed by Zero Hedge nearly 2 years ago (on Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) may claim its biggest victim, even in the absence of any criminal or civil charges against company executives: the last thing FOFs and LPs hate is uncertainty, and there is nothing like headline uncertainty that today, in one week, or one year, their capital may be permanently frozen courtesy of a few men in gray suits and a search warrant, which not even the best paid Gerson Lehrman consultant could have foreseen.
With over 30 people arrested or cooperating with the US Attorney General in the biggest insider trading bust in history, one can be sure that as many of those wishing to avoid jail time sing, many more arrests will undoubtedly come. Will this investigation impact "information arbitrage" specialist SAC (as Zero Hedge has speculated)? As of now the firm has gone through unscathed, although the net may be closing in on the 72 Cummings Point Road behemoth. After all, why would the SEC attempt to place its informant back with Steve Cohen's $12 billion hedge fund unless they had prior reason to be suspicious, and unless Richard Lee had advised them of improprieties handled by the man who trades 10% of the NYSE's (declining) volume daily. An arrest implicating billionaire Steve Cohen would likely make (or destroy) the political career of whoever the attorney prosecuting him. Which is why any evidence better be ironclad.