Absolute-Return Funds Promise the Holy Grail

Bloomberg – Gather round, children, to hear about the investments you’ve been waiting for. They suggest that you might get positive returns in any economic climate, regardless of whether stocks are going up or down.

Wait — don’t run! It’s not Bernard Madoff or even R. Allen Stanford, the mini-Madoff, who allegedly bilked savers out of $8 billion in supposedly high-rate certificates of deposit. It’s sanctified by hedge funds and brought to you by America’s finest financial engineers. What could be more inspirational than that?

I’m talking about the mutual funds whose investment strategies aim to be “market neutral” or to deliver “absolute returns.” Morningstar in Chicago, which publishes fund data, currently has 28 of them on its list, up from a handful five years ago.

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