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Golden age of hedge funds dims

International Herald Tribune – Making millions – or even a few billion – by managing a hedge fund has been a running dream on Wall Street in recent years. But suddenly even the masters of this $2 trillion universe are falling on hard times, at least by their own gilded standards.

Hedge funds, those secretive investment vehicles for the rich and, increasingly, not-so-rich, are supposed to make money whether markets go up or down. But many of them are being swept up in the turmoil in the financial world.

The funds’ investment returns are sinking, and so are those big paydays for their managers, whose riches have helped redefine our notions of wealth and helped drive up the price of everything from Picassos to New York penthouses.

Several big funds have faltered in recent weeks, some of them spectacularly so. While many funds are still flying high, the average hedge fund has lost more than 4 percent this year, according to Hedge Fund Research, putting the industry on course for its worst year on record.

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