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A Gloomy Picture for Hedge Funds

New York Times – Hedge funds’ annus horribilis is getting worse. The average fund, after losing nearly 5 percent in the first eight months of the year, was down an additional 7 percent in September, according to Hedge Fund Research. Many other factors are making life difficult for fund managers, too. An industry shakeout looks inevitable.

At the end of last month, many funds were expecting more than the usual level of requests from jittery investors to pull cash out. It’s hard to plan longer-term trades if your investment funds might suddenly be snatched away. And a flood of redemptions can force the sale of assets, hurting remaining investors — one reason that fund managers sometimes block withdrawals.

On top of that, hedge funds used to bolster returns with lots of borrowed money. Now that has become a scarce commodity. The ability to bet on price declines has also suffered, thanks to partial or complete bans on selling stocks short in markets around the world.

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