What really happened last August? There was blood in the street for many hedge funds, while others did ok. But in this week's Outside the Box, Jon Sundt from Altegris Investments (and my US partner) dives you the behind the scenes details of what was going on inside the trading rooms of various quantitative hedge funds. It makes for interesting, if not sobering, reading.
I think you will find this analysis helpful in your own efforts to analyze your investment managers. How much real risk are your managers taking? Can you tell just by the performance numbers? Jon suggest different ways to look at the risk in your portfolio.
Jon is the president of Altegris Investments. He has been researching and analyzing hedge funds for many years, along with his partners and an extensive research team at Altegris. I am proud to partner with his firm, and happy to present you his essay ad this week's Outside the Box.
General reader, today's Outside the Box is one that you are going to want to put your thinking caps on for. My good friend Woody Brock has kindly allowed me to present you with one of the sections from his quarterly comments. In his chapter "Deconstructing Today's Ongoing Revolution in Finance," Woody has written a particularly interesting and somewhat controversial section titled "Why the Economy Needs Vastly More Derivates, Not Less."
An all too common myth is that the total value of derivates is in and of itself dangerous because they are a form of leverage...but that is not the case. Derivatives, per se, are not a form of leverage; rather they afford the opportunity and make it easier and less risky for others to use leverage across many different assets and instruments (i.e. - mortgages, insurance, etc...). It is the leverage which is then the issue, as paradoxically, the decreased risk (hedging) aspects of derivatives allows investors to feel more comfortable with increased leverage, which sends a variety of signals to market participants.
The problem lies not in the instruments but in how the risk is distributed. While many of the larger, institutional players have used the offshoots of derivates to better hedge themselves, much of the smaller investor community has unwisely used the medium in a speculative manner. If a small homeowner is in trouble because of leverage on their mortgage, there just isn't anyone left to bail them out. Just as in the greater fool theory, the party only continues while someone is more foolish and irrational than the last fool.
Again, this is one of the more insightful articles featured in an Outside the Box. I believe it to be very important as its implications tie into what we are now seeing in the subprime mortgage market. May you enjoy Woody's insights and analysis.
Last Friday, I wrote about That Stubborn Yield Curve in my Thoughts from the Frontline letter. In it, I quoted a few paragraphs by Pimco's Paul McCulley, but upon reflection, I feel that his whole letter is worthy of taking a look at more in-depth. Paul writes a monthly commentary, the Global Central Bank Focus that, because of its well-researched and unique perspective, is always at the top of my reading list. As a Managing Director at PIMCO, Paul is an intelligent economist and a self-proclaimed "religious Keynesian."
In his article "Time-Varying Variables Vary" (quite the tongue twister), Paul looks back upon his forecast for the Fed Funds rate and evaluates the "Taylor" formula. But one of the things that I like best about Paul is that, despite his lengthy analysis, he is a bottom-line kind of guy who always boils it down to the end result, which in this case, is the future decision making of the Fed.
With Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs each weighing in on opposing sides of the interest rate debate, I believe that you will find Paul's piece to be a truly "outside the box" point of view.