Seeking Alpha – In a recent interview, Mr. Stanley Goldstein announced the creation of an industry watchdog group, led by the New York Hedge Fund Roundtable. Its goal is to self-enforce otherwise voluntary and "weak" hedge fund practices. (As I wrote in "Doris Day, Scarlett O’Hara and Financial Market Tumult," July 19, 2008, a July 17, 2008 Financial Times editorial refers to such guidelines as cosmetic, meant to attract institutional investors and to keep regulators at bay.)
Goldstein, a CPA and founder of several hedge funds, explains that the aim is "not to start a separate organization but to use the existing one to compile and disseminate standards for hedge funds to follow," adding that "We do not see enforcement as practical or desirable but rather, hope that ‘industry usage’ will evolve along the lines which we, and others like us, deem appropriate."
Goldstein’s support of the free market to act as the ultimate enforcer is laudable, especially at a time when global regulators are far from silent about the need for more stringent rules. Will Adam Smith’s "invisible hand" really work? Let’s hope so. As this blogger has written many times before, regulations no doubt change the way market participants behave, often leading to the "Law of Unintended Consequences."