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Alternative Market Briefing

Understanding tail-risk hedges and funds - part one

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bailey McCann, Opalesque New York:

Conversations surrounding tail-risk started gaining more frequency with both investors and funds starting with the collapse of Long Term Capital Management as a result of the 1998 Russian debt default crisis. Since then, rolling crises from the 2007 "quant" crisis, to the 2008 global financial meltdown and most recently Grexit have made tail-risk hedging a hot topic. New funds, books, papers, and summits are springing up throughout the financial universe discussing tail-risk, whether it can be effectively hedged and how investors can fund the experiment. In this series, Opalesque will examine some of the more common tail-risk hedges, the funds in this space and what investors can expect.

The 10,000 foot view

Tail-risk strategies are essentially designed to perform well in the worst of market conditions. They act as insurance policies, requiring investors to pay in to a losing strategy until something bad happens. Tail-risk hedges are said to be most effective in environments where market participants see declines of at least 20%, providing much needed liquidity while the rest of their portfolio is spiraling toward the bottom. These declines are commonly known as fat-tails or black swan events. The individual strategies themselves are derived from calculating the probability of such events.

Tail-risk hedges are gaining more attention from institutional investors like public pension funds which have a mandate ......................

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