More Money Than God

“Why is it, particularly in the financial industry, we see such limitless greed? Money is not like a commodity, commodities need inputs, money doesn’t Retail foreign exchange trading need any inputs, so from the supply-side there is no constraint whatsoever, you can produce it in limitless quantities, technically speaking.

The following are some of the major people, institutions and concepts on a per chapter basis. The first in each list is the central character of that chapter. Make More Money By Making Your Employees Happy Forbes A hedge fund is an investment fund that pools capital from accredited investors or institutional investors and invests in a variety of assets, often with complex portfolio-construction and risk management techniques. It is administered by a professional investment management firm, and often structured as a limited partnership, limited liability company, or similar vehicle. No definition of hedge funds is perfect, and not all the adventures recounted in this book involve hedging and leverage. When George Soros and Stan Druckenmiller broke the British pound, or when John Paulson shorted the mortgage bubble in the United States, there was no particular need to hedge—as we shall see later.

  • The first hedge-fund manager, Alfred Winslow Jones, did not go to business school.
  • Whereas the market disruptions of the 1990s could be viewed as a tolerable price to pay for the benefits of sophisticated and leveraged finance, the convulsion of 2007–2009 triggered the sharpest recession since the 1930s.
  • Ken Griffin started out trading convertible bonds from his Harvard dorm room.
  • Banks collect savings from households with the help of government deposit insurance; hedge funds have to demonstrate that they can manage risk before they can raise money from clients.
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  • Mallaby addresses the question of to what extent the Efficient Market Hypothesis is reasonable in a number of places throughout the book.

Mallaby contends that hedge funds benefit the economy by correcting market anomalies; because they put managers’ money on the line and are small enough to fail, they are more prudent and less disruptive than heavily regulated banks. Mallaby’s enthusiasm for an old-school capitalism of unfettered risk taking isn’t always persuasive, but he does offer a more money than god penetrating look into a shadowy corner of high finance. First, hedge funds often trade against people who are buying or selling for some reason other than profit. In the currency markets, for example, hedge funders such as Bruce Kovner might trade against a central bank that is buying its own currency because it has a political mandate to prop it up.

Finally, Mallaby cites a study by Ibbotson, Chen, and Zhu that found, after attempting to compensate for reporting and survivorship bias, that hedge funds returned an average of 7.7 percent annually between 1995 and 2009, net of fees. This included “3 percentage points of alpha” (returns better than you’d expect from the class of investments and risk/leverage). So the hedge fund is a better value than investing in an I-bank or a mutual fund. Starting from the very first hedge fund, the reader is taken on a whirlwind tour of some dramatic moments in hedge fund history. In particular, the author goes into some events that you might not have heard of, like the characters involved in the formation of the first hedge funds and how they took advantage of market inefficiencies to rake in huge profits.

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It follows that professional money managers who try to foresee price moves will generally fail in their mission. As this critique anticipates, plenty of hedge funds have no real edge—if you strip away the marketing hype and occasional flashes of dumb luck, there is no distinctive investment insight that allows them to beat the market consistently. But for the successful funds that dominate the industry, the efficient-market indictment is wrong.

more money than god

On Wall Street, the crash of October 1929 was followed by a series of collapses in the early 1930s. He grappled ambitiously with the biggest questions of his age, but his conclusions tended to be moderate. One was a Ponzi scheme, one a tax fraud, and the last was sold to American Express for $380 million.

He spent thirteen years on The Economist, covering international finance in London and serving as bureau chief in Southern Africa, Japan and Washington. From 1999 to 2007 he was a member of the editorial board of the Washington Post, focusing on globalization and political economy.

In sum, the hedged fund does better in a bull market despite the lesser risk it has assumed; and the hedged fund does better in a bear market because of the lesser risk it has assumed. Of course, the calculations work only if the investors pick good stocks; a poor stock picker could have his incompetence magnified under Jones’s arrangement.

This Campground summer resident’s children’s books, including Twice as Good, Lipman Pike, and, most recently, S Is for Sea Glass, have earned countless awards. Mr. Michelson’s Northampton art gallery is the go-to site for illustrated books as well as work by prominent artists like Barry Mosher and Leonard Baskin. More Money Than God is the fifth poetry collection for Mr. Michelson, who serves as Northampton’s current poet laureate. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that empowers people to choose how they live as they age. These fees certainly sound rather high compared to the fees at Vanguard, which charges 0.07 percent for investments in its S&P 500 Index fund or 0.23 percent for its actively-managed Wellington Fund. Jones’s politics emerged from his writings as a sociologist and journalist. Subjecting his interview results to a series of statistical tests, he concluded that acute economic divisions did not actually carry over into polarized world-views.

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Today, great reserves of dollars must be held by foreign governments to stave off speculative attacks from hedge funds. When it comes to choosing between funding an inoculation program or buying Treasury Bills, the governments, for their own safety, have to choose T-bills. And in so doing reinforce the US-dominated global financial system. This bigger picture seems lost on Mallaby.Written in the wake of the global financial crisis, Mallaby offers hedge funds as an alternative to banks to manage risk. Although he puts in a plug for progressive taxation, the main message of the book is that hedge funds have it all handled, get out of their way.

Michael Steinhardt made his fortune by milking these discounts in a systematic way. An unassuming Currencies forex footnote in the efficient-market view became the basis for a hedge-fund legend.

About The Author

At the time, in 1948, economists believed the stock market was cyclical. Wall Street, in his esteem, was irrational — fluctuating with investors’ mood swings. Alfred Winslow Jones, inventor of the hedge fund, never got an MBA. All in all, the greatest benefit of reading this book is that I got to take some time to be introspective and explore my own relationship with money and with life. Sebastian Mallaby is the Paul Volcker Senior Fellow in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Washington Post columnist.

more money than god

So are the stories of underdogs armed with nothing but a good idea working outside the system beating it at its own game. To an extent that he could not possibly have foreseen, Jones was anticipating the history of hedge funds. In the 1950s and 1960s, Jones himself was destined to impose a new efficiency upon markets. But the nature of that change was not at all what he expected. Jones believed that investor emotions created trends in stock prices.

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So-called hedge funds that are the subsidiaries of large banks lack the paranoia and focus that give true hedge funds their special character. More Money Than God is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.

more money than god

The standard practice for professional investors was to load up with stocks when the market was expected to go up and to hold a lot of cash when it was expected to topple. When the charts signaled a bull market, he did not merely put 100 percent of his fund into stocks; he borrowed in order to be, say, 150 percent long—meaning that he owned stocks worth one and a half times the value of his capital. When the charts signaled trouble, on the other hand, Jones did not merely retreat to cash. He reduced his exposure by selling stocks short—borrowing them from other forex analytics investors and selling them in the expectation that their price would fall, at which point they could be repurchased at a profit. The very structure of hedge funds promotes a paranoid discipline. Banks tend to be establishment institutions with comfortable bosses; hedge funds tend to be scrappy upstarts with bosses who think nothing of staying up all night to see a deal close. Banks collect savings from households with the help of government deposit insurance; hedge funds have to demonstrate that they can manage risk before they can raise money from clients.

More Money Than God: Hedge Funds And The Making Of A New Elite (paperback)

These hedge funds could drop their h and be called edge funds. If Ibbotson’s study and Mallaby’s anecdotes are correct, hedge funds on average are doing something that can’t be done, i.e., beat an efficient market. Mallaby addresses the question of to what extent the Efficient Market Hypothesis is reasonable in a number of places throughout the book. Generally speaking, Mallaby attributes the success of the hedge funds that he chronicles to an inefficient market and to the fact that the hedge fund managers who are rewarded with more capital are smarter than the herd of less-smart people who make up most of the market. Aside from lack of liquidity, which can sometimes lead to profit opportunities, the market includes the government, which does not act either predictably or in a way that seeks to protect taxpayers. If they are serious about learning from the 2007–2009 crisis, policy makers need to restrain financial supermarkets with confused and overlapping objectives, encouraging focused boutiques that live or die according to the soundness of their risk management. They need to shift capital out of institutions underwritten by taxpayers and into ones that stand on their own feet.

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