Funds Hub

Money managers under the microscope

Have hedge fund flows turned the corner?

September 23, 2009

waterThe global hedge fund industry has recovered from last fall’s lows, thanks to bubbly markets, but investors this year continued to yank out their cash. Until now.

HedgeFund.net, which tracks industry performance and trends, in a report released this week estimated that total hedge fund assets rose more than 2.5 percent, or $47 billion, to reach $1.89 trillion at the end of last month. Nearly half that growth came from net inflows of $19.6 billion. 

“The rate of organic growth increased in August to 1.05% … nearly matching rates seen in June, a very positive sign for the industry,” the firm wrote.

Beyond the headline numbers, August revealed some interesting trends. Managers in Europe enjoyed greater inflows than other regions. Allocations to fixed income outpaced equities. Mortgages had the highest inflow rates of all. One exception: global macro funds that thrived last year suffered notable outflows last month, Hedgefund.net found.

The firm also noted that many hedge fund strategies have already or will soon surmount their peak levels set in October 2007, when the recent drawdown wave began. Those strategies already operating at peak levels include merger arbitrage, mortgages, special situations and statistical arb.

Fund strategies still well below their high water marks: energy, long-only equity, emerging markets, distressed debt and long-short equity.

Other industry watchers have yet to report the return of positive flows, so this trend bears watching. Hedge Fund Research reports the industry suffered a record $152 billion of outflows last year, plus another $146 billion of withdrawals in the first half.

The industry coffers are still far from full.

(See also Green Shoots? and Out of the Woods)

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