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Why hedge funds might shine in 2009

Morningstar.ca – Hedge fund managers, once the swashbuckling frontiersmen of international finance and subject of fawning cocktail party banter, have quickly gone from hero to goat. As the global credit bubble burst with a vengeance in 2008, so too did the oft-touted myth that these alternative strategies could deliver positive results in any market.

But those claims painted the universe with too broad a brush. There has always been a difference between arbitrage funds that isolated structural inefficiencies, and speculators that either didn’t hedge or used the ability to short stock as a means of leveraging directional bets. Clearly it should never have been expected that a fund that was short financials and long commodities, as many hedge funds were last year, would have a market neutral, "absolute return" profile. The majority of Canadian offerings fall into that camp, so it’s no surprise we’ve seen stark declines among many of our homegrown funds.

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