The Hedge Fund Meltdown: Another Reason Wealth Needs Spreading

AlterNet – Jack Nash, a key pioneer of the global hedge fund industry, passed away this past summer. Much of the rest of the industry may soon join him six feet under. The industry, one insider told the Financial Times last week, has embarked on "a sort of death march."

Hedge funds now appear to be the next chunk of high finance headed for meltdown. They may actually do their melting before most Americans even know what they are.

A quick primer: Hedge funds have been operating in the financial world’s immensely lucrative shadows ever since Jack Nash co-founded Odyssey Partners, the granddaddy of the modern hedge fund, in 1982, just one year after Ronald Reagan slashed tax rates on America’s highest incomes.

The new tax rates — the lowest the rich had seen since the early 1930s — meant that wealthy Americans suddenly had plenty of new cash sloshing in their pockets. Nash promised these affluents high annual returns if they gave him their money to invest — and then delivered. Over the next 14 years, Odyssey delighted investors with a 24 percent average annual return.

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