With the overall market up over 17%, one would expect the hedge fund community to be doing relatively well this year. Unfortunately, for most traditional long/short equity, multi-strat and diversified funds that may be a stretch, with all three underperforming the S&P materially (1.55%, 9.53% and 5.97%, respectively). Yet at least one one group of funds is doing spectacularly well: and sure enough, in a year when the Fed has desperately tried to make even the dumbest investors successful, it will probably not come as a surprise that CTA, systematic and momo funds, which trade based on trends and momentum chasing, are the best performing group, returning 19.41% YTD.
To be sure, any year in which the both the Keynes Leveraged Quantitative Strategies Fund and the Tulip Trend Fund are in the Top 20 performers (largely due to their successful - so far - bets on plunging yields), is a year in which the Fed is actively doing everything it can to prop up stocks. And 2019 is just such a banner year for CTAs and other systematic quants. In fact, as the following breakdown of Top and Bottom 20 Funds of 2019 shows, the vast majority of best performers has benefited from the relentless momentum in the bond market, if not so much the recent volatility in stocks.
On the other end of the spectrum, a name that sticks out is that of Odey's European fund, which is down over 6% after being the best performer of 2018 thanks to its short Italy bets, returning over 50% in 2018. Another notable name: Horseman Global, whose 14.3% loss YTD is actually an improvement from the -22% drop we reported when we recently profiled its performance as of July 31.
How about everyone else? While we couldn't capture the returns of every single fund, the table below captures the performance of some of the most marquee names in the hedge fund world.
Source: HSBC Hedge Fund Weekly #36, Sept 2-6, 2019