One month after news that legendary investor Paul Tudor Jones' $11.6 billion hedge fund Tudor Investment had seen some $1 billion in redemptions as a result of poor performance and the exit of several money managers, some of whom spent decades at the firm, the inevitable next step has followed: Tudor is trimming the fees it charges some clients in its biggest fund amid losses this year.
Moments ago we the latest confirmation that the hedge fund business model is indeed suffering through an existential battle when MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, said was seeking to exit most of its hedge-fund portfolio after a slump in the investments. According to Bloomberg, the insurer is seeking to redeem $1.2 billion of the $1.8 billion in holdings, a process that may take a couple of years to complete.
It has already been a very bad several years for hedge funds with 2016 starting off especially brutally, when moments ago we learned that it is about to get even worse for one of the most iconic names in the macro hedge fund space, Brevan Howard, which according to Bloomberg has been served with $1.4 billion in cash redemption requests.
In a world in which the average hedge fund has failed to outperform the stock market for 8 years running, many have asked themselves what is the point of paying 2 and (not so much 20) to consistently underperform a global asset class which is now actively micromanaged by central banks themselves. And while redemptions from hedge funds have been growing in recent months, coupled with the first year since the crisis in which more hedge funds shut down than were created, it all culminated moments ago when Bloomberg reported that clients of none other than hedge fund legend Paul Tudor Jones have asked to pull more than $1 billion after three years of lackluster returns.
Man Group, which runs $76.8 billion in assets, said on its website that its $4.4 billion AHL Diversified fund lost 5.1% on Thursday. Among other funds to have been running bets, to a greater or lesser extent, against the euro were Brevan Howard Asset Management, which oversees about $25 billion in assets; Tudor Investment Corp.; Moore Capital Management; and Caxton Associates, said investors. "Pretty much everyone was short the euro. The view was very clear for everyone."
When it comes to soliciting opinions, the NY Fed in general, and former Goldmanite Bill Dudley in particular, care about just one group of "advisors" - the Investor Advisory Committee on Financial Markets (a group created in July 2009 after the 2008 market crash) also known as the billionaires who run the country's biggest hedge funds, prop desks and PE firms, including JPM, Credit Suisse, Apollo, Blackrock, Blue Mountain, Brevan Howard, Tudor, Fortress, and lo and behold, David "Balls to the Wall" Tepper.
A former BOE employee and Mervyn King speechwriter who went on to a lucrative private sector career as a bond strategist at Deutsche Bank, and then as a hedge fund economist, is now going back to the BOE as a voting member. And that's not all. This revolving door story has a punchline...
Now here's a story about something that will never happen in the United States.
Shortly after 6pm London time yesterday, The ECB's Benoit Coeure told a non-public audience of hedge funds in London that "the central bank would moderately front-load its purchases in its quantitative easing program because of the seasonal lack of market liquidity in the summer." The reaction was a 50 pips drop in EURUSD... but this was inside information was not released to the trading public until around 8am London time - and resulted in a 150 pip plunge. In other words, a select private group of head funds in London were leaked ECB front-loading news 14 hours before The ECB deemed it 'correct' to publicly release the comments... due to what The ECB calls "an internal procedure error."
Less than a week ago, fresh from the aftermath of the recent dramatic six-sigma move in German Bunds, one of Europe's largest banks openly lamented that so far the ECB's QE had done absolutely nothing: "two months of QE for nothing." And lo and behold, as if on demand, overnight the ECB confirmed it had heard SocGen's lament when just before the European market open, ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure delivered a speech at the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis (appropriately named after a hedge fund) at Imperial College Business School (not to be confused with the July 26, 2012 Mario Draghi "whatever it takes" speech which also took place in London) in which he said that the ECB intends to "frontload" i.e., increase, its purchases of euro-area assets in May and June ahead of an expected low-liquidity period in the summer.
It is no secret that January was a bad month for bulls: it was in fact the worst start to the year in years, especially following that surprising last day selloff, which took the YTD drop as of January 30 to an unheard of, at least under global central-planning, -3.1%. It wasn't just the broader market: some of the more marquee hedge funds names also found it a tough time to navigate the transition of global easing away from the Fed to the ECB even as other central banks like the SNB lost all credibility, such as Fortress, Third Point, Perry, Maverick, Brevan Howard and various others, all of which had negative returns for the majority of the month based on HSBC data. But it wasn't all bad news: in fact, as the table below shows, the January outperformers generated higher relative returns than the worst funds of the month,
Minutes after last week's Swiss National Bank shocker, jokingly we mused: "Will be ironic if Soros was long EURCHF." As it turns out, we were almost correct, and according to the WSJ, Soros Fund Management, which manages more than $25 billion for investor George Soros, was betting against the Swiss franc in the fall before it removed those bearish positions. Why did the Soros so conveniently take off a bet which, with leverage, could have resulted in massive losses for his hedge fund? The WSJ says he did so after "viewing the risk as too high relative to potential gains, said people close to the matter." Well as long as "people close" think Soros did not have input directly from the Swiss central bank, or perhaps the occasional hint from Kashya Hildebrand, then one can't help but marvel at the octogenarian's impeccable timing.
If we had to put all our money on one trader, just one individual trader, we would do it without hesitation. The recipient? This guy.
- ECB to decide on bond-buying plan to revive euro zone (Reuters)
- Draghi Is Pushing Boundaries of Euro Region with QE Program (BBG)
- Investors Wonder Whether ECB Will Do Enough (WSJ)
- Treasuries Drop With Bunds Before ECB; U.S. Futures Rise (BBG)
- European shares hit seven-year high (Reuters)
- At least eight civilians killed in shelling of Ukrainian trolleybus (Reuters), both sides blame each other
- OPEC Will Blink First in Battle With Shale Drillers, Poll Shows (BBG)
- China Injects $8 Billion Into Banking System (WSJ)
- New York says Barclays not cooperating in 'dark pool' probe (Reuters)
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."