The 4 Charts Your Friendly Equity Hedge Fund Manager Does Not Want You To See

Tyler Durden's picture

A funny thing happens when there is only one driver of economic market growth, any chance of intelligent fact-based, logic-induced, fundamental-biased investing becomes reduced to the rubble of momentum-chasing leveraged beta. No matter how much your 2-and-20 taking manager explains his 'process', the charts below show that the thundering herd of 'dumb' money that used to be so useful in identifying the extremes of market hubris and dysphoria appear to have overwhelmed the world of 'smart' money. Hedge funds have never been more net long US equities; hedge fund returns have never been more correlated to the market; hedge funds have never produced so little alpha; and hedge funds are as leveraged to this beta as they were at the top in 2007. This will not end well...

 

The alpha-generation has left the building...

 

 

as hedgies are increasingly mimicking their low-cost low-tracking-error ETF nemeses...

 

Which has meant that hedge funds have never been more net long US equities...

 

and in order to justify their fees, they have had to lever - and have never been more leveraged...

Gross exposure rose by 12% to $1280bn notional in 1Q13. Percentage-wise, gross exposure increased to about 160%. When including ETF positions the gross exposure increases to 180%.

In Q1 2013, hedge funds reduced cash holdings to the 2Q07 trough of 4.3%, while raising net exposure to the 2Q07 peak of 59% in 1Q13. Meanwhile, dollar notional net exposure rose by 11% to $463bn notional in 1Q13 – setting a new record. The bullish positioning indicates that risk appetite is back to the peak set in 2007.

At of the end of 1Q13, hedge funds owned 5.0% of the Russell 3000 float shares, second only to the 2Q08 peak of 5.1%.

 

Charts: BofAML and Morgan Stanley