Depending on how you look at it, August may not have been as bad a month for stocks as advertised. For the month as a whole, the MSCI all-country world stock index lost more than 7.5 percent. This was the worst performance since May last year, and the worst August since 1998.
This chart shows losses in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index since October 2007. Joseph Brusuelas, a director at Moody’s Economy.com, said from the 2007 peak to the first quarter of 2009, U.S. stock holdings fell $7.6 trillion in real terms. “Our estimate suggests that through the end of March, U.S. stock wealth will have fallen by $66,000 per household,” he said.
Wealth managers at Citi Private Bank are telling their clients to stay neutral in their exposure to hedge funds at the moment, whether the strategy be event driven, equity long/short or macro. The main reason is that capital markets are still stressed and many hedge funds still need to deleverage.
More stress on its balance sheets is just about the last thing that the banking sector needs. The subprime mortgage crisis has already battered banks, leading to huge losses, scrambles for funding and free-falling banking shares. The S&P index of financial stocks has lost more than 30 percent so far this year. At its worst, the index plunged around 55 percent between a high in May last year and a low in June this year.
Things are going from bad to worse for hedge funds.
Having only just clawed back their losses after a dreadful March, the closely-watched Credit Suisse/Tremont Hedge Fund Index shows hedge funds lost a hefty 2.61 percent in July after being hit by a double-whammy of market movements.