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.
The firm points out, however, that hedge funds had a good news-bad news kind of year in 2008. Based on the HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index, it was the worst performance on record. The index lost 23.3 percent. Its next worst performance was 2002 — and that was only a 1.5 percent decline.
Losses were widespread across all kinds of strategies. Only merger arbitrage and systematic macro gained anything.
The good news, so to speak, was that that this dreadful performance was better than what you would have got from just plain equities. The S&P 500, for example, lost 38.5 percent, meaning that the hedge fund index outperformed by a whopping 15.2 percentage points.
It was that kind of year.