Good reads from around the Web.
Back in the days before Monevator, I used to argue on forums with ‘sophisticated’ investors who told me I was just jealous when I doubted the case for hedge funds.
Nowadays everyone and his dog knows most hedge funds don’t deliver returns to justify their fees or their fanfare.
Worse, their supposed hedging was revealed as an expensive chimera during the 2008 downturn, too.
Some big pension funds are pulling money from hedge funds, and not before time. Sky-high hedge fund fees have taken an estimated 84% of net real investors’ net profits since 1998!
Yet assets under management at hedge funds are still rising.
I am sure this is because rich people like to feel special, rather than because they’re smart.
Cor! Look at the correlation on that
During my debates of yesteryear, I was invariably told that as well as not understanding that hedge funds shouldn’t be compared to the market (as if losing 5% less in a downturn made up for years of lagging the market and massive fee engorgement) I also didn’t realize how valuable non-correlation was.
That was true. One’s appreciation of asset correlations is like fine wine – it gets better with age.
I now think if hedge funds as a class truly delivered uncorrelated returns, they might be worth the money.
But they barely do, as these graphs plucked from the latest Absolute Return Letter indicate:
The graphs show how various popular hedge fund strategies have becoming increasingly correlated with the returns from a portfolio of global equities.
Why pay 2/20% in fees if you can get roughly the same performance from cheap global equities and a bond ETF?
You can fool some people all of the time
Hedge funds once romped about in a world without much competition, and that is reflected in the left-hand side of the graphs.
Those were the good old days. Sophisticated investors really had stumbled onto something different.
However the very popularity of hedge funds – they now manage nearly $3 trillion in assets – has doomed them to mediocrity.
When you are the market, you can’t beat it, especially after stratospheric fees.
Even keeping anywhere near the market is now a high hurdle for hedge funds.
According to Bloomberg:
Hedge funds, on average, have returned just 2 percent in 2014, their worst performance since 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The article also says 2014 will be a bumper year for hedge fund closures.
Perhaps it will – but then again I’m sure 2015 will be a bumper year for hedge fund openings.
The story is better than the reality.
But people buy stories.
From the blogs
Making good use of the things that we find…
- 90% in stocks or 100% in stocks? – The Finance Buff
- Actual returns Vs. average returns – Wealth of Common Sense
- The case for a globalised portfolio – CFA Institute
- It’s hard to hold a 10,000% winner – Value Perspective
- A crowd-valuation of Uber… – Musings on Markets
- …at around $40 billion Uber is too big to ignore – Abnormal Returns
- Reviewing – and selling – Imperial Tobacco – UK Value Investor
- A good company versus a great company – Clear Eyes Investing
- Dewhurst: An undervalued microcap – Beddard/iii
- A long look at short-termism [Paper] – Michael Mauboussin
- “In addition, you have enjoyed considerable non-pecuniary compensation such as perfumed sedan driver(s) and assorted assistants who spray ionized lavender water on your barren cranium.” – An activist investor [SEC filing] on the trail of Jim Cramer’s Street.com [More at Dealbook]
- 9 lessons about investing and money – Matt Cutts (@Google)
- Who is in your scene? – James Altucher
- Get rich… fast – The Escape Artist
- Dear TV licensing: I have no TV – Simple Living in Suffolk
Oil price turmoil mini special
- The maths behind $80 oil – The Fat Pitch
- Lessons from the oil rout – MoneyBeat
- Sheiks versus shale: The economics of oil – Economist
- What if big oil has to leave its assets underground? – Bloomberg
Product of the week: Wondering where to buy your Christmas tree – and whether to plump for fake fir? The Guardian rounds up your options.
Mainstream media money
Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.1
- Investing wisdom from three experts – Vanguard [featuring Mike]
- Holding winning funds as hard as finding them – Research Affiliates
- Even big universities can’t really beat the market – Swedroe/ETF.com
- Nutmeg: A tech take on wealth management [Search result] – FT
- Caution urged over property funds [Search result] – FT
- Multinationals and the new politics of hate [Search result] – FT
- Have risk and return been upended? [On low volatility] – Bloomberg
- What the ultimate (US) stockpickers are buying – MorningStar
- Emerging markets prospering: Jim O’Neil – Bloomberg
- The case for AIM-listed Redcentric – Jim Slater / Telegraph
- The impact of activist investors – Fortune
Other stuff worth reading
- Could Islington’s “buy-to-leavers” be sent to jail? – Guardian
- A Q&A with UK Pensions Minister Steve Webb – Telegraph
- Investing in film posters – Telegraph
- How boy bands go bust – Telegraph
- The shortlist for the financial chart of the year – Quartz
- Gold bugs keep changing their tune – Bloomberg View
- Young couple excited about buying first property… – Daily Mash
Book of the week: Back in the news following that fatal crash, Richard Branson remains the acceptable entrepreneur to most Britons. His new book, The Virgin Way, explains how he does it.
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- Reader Ken notes that: “FT articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”.” [↩]