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Hedge funds lost 18.3 percent in 2008
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Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Hedge funds lost 18.3 percent in 2008, their worst year on record, as managers misjudged the severity of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

A gain of 0.42 percent in December lessened the average loss for the full year, according to Hedge Fund Research Inc.’s HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index. The decline was the largest since the Chicago-based firm began tracking data in 1990.
 

A gain of 0.42 percent in December lessened the average loss for the full year, according to Hedge Fund Research Inc.’s HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index. The decline was the largest since the Chicago-based firm began tracking data in 1990.

“Hedge funds failed to appreciate the magnitude, breadth and duration of the declines we saw across most markets,” said Michael Rosen, principal at Angeles Investment Advisors LLC in Santa Monica, California, which advises clients on investments.

Investment losses and client withdrawals reduced industry assets to $1.1 trillion last month from its peak of $1.9 trillion in June, according to Morgan Stanley. Firms such as Dwight Anderson’s Ospraie Management LLC and Jeffrey Gendell’s Tontine Associates LLC closed funds, while Paul Tudor Jones’s Tudor Investment Corp. and Kenneth Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group LLC were among those to limit redemptions.

The decline by hedge funds last year compared with the 37 percent drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, including reinvested dividends, the benchmark’s worst showing since 1937. Commodities slumped 33 percent, according to the UBS Bloomberg Constant Maturity Commodity Index of 26 contracts.

The worst previous performance by hedge funds was in 2002, when they lost 1.45 percent while the S&P 500 tumbled 23 percent. Hedge funds returned 9.9 percent in 2007.

Stock Funds Lose

Among the major investment strategies, equity hedge funds lost the most last year, an average of 26 percent, Hedge Fund Research said. Event-driven funds, which invest in companies going through changes such as mergers and spinoffs, lost 21 percent. Macro hedge funds, which can bet on securities from commodities and interest rates, returned 5.7 percent.

Tontine, based in Greenwich, Connecticut, was among the firms with the biggest losses. Tontine Partners LP fund slumped 91.5 percent, while Tontine 25 Fund lost 64 percent, according to investors. Griffin, 40, who runs Citadel, lost about 53 percent from its two biggest funds. The Chicago-based firm oversees $13 billion.

 


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