Laurence D. Fink Opalesque Industry Update – According to research released by Dow Jones and Credit Suisse, hedge funds are on pace to double the inflows seen by the industry last year. With an estimated $34bn entering hedge fund coffers in the first half of 2011, Credit Suisse estimates that industry assets are currently only $300bn shy of the peak asset level of 2007 (which the firm pegs at $2.1tln – and historically, Credit Suisse has always carried much more conservative estimates of hedge fund industry assets than other firms).
From the $34bn that entered the industry in the first half of the year, fixed income arb, global macro and long/short equity were the biggest benefactors of investor interest. The authors of the Credit Suisse report indicate that one likely factor for the preference to these strategies is likely “investor concerns over macroeconomic and geopolitical themes that have emerged in the second quarter of 2011, including the European debt crisis and the “Arab Spring”. With investors discounting an increased probability of a ‘tail event’ flows have gravitated toward strategies that may profit from a significant shock or a substantial change in government policy.”
Investor wariness of markets due to geopolitical events and specifically political instability in developed nations (specifically concerns over how politicians will act regarding European sovereign debt and the US debt ceiling) are causing investors to position themselves for potential economic disaster. At Wednesday’s BlackRock quarterly call, Chairman and CEO Larry Fink commented that politicians around the globe had investors de-risking out of concerns for the future, and Fink uncharacteristically spoke about his concerns for mass civil unrest should politicians continue to react to debt problems by leaning on the larger population rather than making bond holders share in the losses.
Along with specific strategies, investors are also continuing to show a strong preference for the largest funds. Credit Suisse reports that the largest one-third of funds (those with over $500m in assets), outpaced fund raising assets by taking $12.1 billion of the flows. In fact, middle tier funds and small funds both experienced net outflows. “This trend continues to demonstrate investor demand for larger-scale hedge fund managers who possess established infrastructures.”