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经济学人:大师级 Masterclass

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Business books quarterly; Book Review;

商业书籍;书评;

The success of hedge funds

对冲基金的成功

Masterclass

大师级

Two books analyse what makes hedge-fund managers great—and reach very different conclusions.

两本介绍对冲基金的成功之处的书——其结论大相径庭。

The Alpha Masters: Unlocking the Genius of the World's Top Hedge Funds. By Maneet Ahuja.

阿尔法(注)大师:揭秘世界顶尖对冲基金的智慧,Maneet Ahuja著。

The Hedge Fund Mirage: The Illusion of Big Money and Why It's Too Good To Be True. By Simon Lack.

对冲基金的海市蜃楼:巨资的幻象及其难以置信的原因,Simon Lack著。

Forget the one percent denounced by the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Hedge-fund managers have made so much money for themselves that they are in the top percent of the one percent. The billions they have raked in make bankers' bonuses look titchy. Their vaunted success trading stocks, bonds and other instruments has helped to transform a cottage industry into a behemoth; today hedge funds oversee more than $2.1 trillion. A class of moneymen who once only managed funds for buccaneering, rich families now count the world's largest public pension funds and endowments as clients.

忘记"占领华尔街"运动中所诋毁的那百分之一。对冲基金经理帮自己赚的钱足以让其成为这百分之一中的佼佼者。他们捞回来上百亿的资金让银行家的分红显得寒碜。他们在股票,债券和衍生品交易上取得了令人赞赏的成绩,这也帮助产业从一家庭作坊式的产业成为龙头产业。今天对冲基金管理着超过2.1万亿美元。曾经为喜欢投机的富翁家族理财的金融家,现今已让世界上最大的公共养老金,基金会成为其客户。

Have hedge funds succeeded because of their investment genius, or their crafty marketing? Two new books disagree on whether the hedge-fund managers' golden chalice is half-full or half-empty. Maneet Ahuja, a CNBC producer who worked briefly on Wall Street before taking a job at the Wall Street Journal, has written a homage to hedgies. She was in awe of Wall Street already when she was an intern at Citigroup (“I left the building with an offer for a semester internship in hand, convinced I had found my calling with the good guys—good guys with nice shoes”). She has never shed it. “The Alpha Masters” profiles 11 of the industry's best-known bosses, and looks at their investment philosophies and their famous trades. John Paulson made billions predicting the bursting of America's housing bubble; James Chanos, a short-seller, disrobed Enron; and Ray Dalio, the boss of Bridgewater, the world's largest hedge fund, makes a killing for his investors and keeps calm doing transcendental meditation.

对冲基金的成功真的是因为他们投资的智慧么?还是因为他们处心积虑的市场企划?两本新书在对冲基金经理们的金杯里究竟是半桶水还是半桶空气的问题上产生异见。曾短暂任职于华尔街而后加入华尔街日报的CNBC制片人Maneet Ahuja,向对冲这帮家伙写了篇致敬。在她在花旗实习的时候就十分敬畏华尔街("当我拿着一学期实习的录取通知书离开大楼的时候,这让我确信自己找到了一群好人——穿着名牌鞋的一群好人")。他至今没有改变这一印象。《阿尔法大师》列举了11位业界最知名的总裁,并分析他们投资哲学和经典案例。约翰•保尔森因预测到美国房地产泡沫而赚了几十亿美元;卖空家James Chanos剥光了安然公司;世界上最大的对冲基金Bridgewater总裁Ray Dalio,为其投资者抓住猎杀机会而通过冥思竟作来保持冷静。

Throughout her book Ms Ahuja seems to be in a trance herself, in thrall to the glamour of her subjects. She never questions the judgment of her alpha-men and always gives them the last word. She devotes dozens of pages to Mr Paulson's rise in the hedge-fund industry, but glosses over his poor performance in 2011. His results have led some to speculate that he may have the unfortunate record of both earning and losing the most money in hedge-fund history. She quotes one of his 2011 letters to investors asserting that bank stocks—whose struggles pulled down his funds' performance—would rebound when the economy improves, never criticising what he did or pointing out that investors will have to wait ages to claw back such massive losses. Nor does she grasp at bigger themes or the many common factors that hedge-fund managers share. Is it ego, courage, good networks or charisma that has brought them more success than their fellow financiers?

Ahuja在她的整本书里都好似被催眠,完全被其采访对象的成功所迷住。她从来没有质疑她书中的阿尔法大师的判断力,视他们的话为至理名言。她为保尔森在对冲基金行业的冉冉升起洋洋洒洒写了十几页,而对他在2011年的糟糕表现则一笔带过。一些人怀疑保尔森可能会创造一个悲剧性纪录——对冲基金史上既是盈利最高也是亏损最多的经理。她引用了保尔森2011年写给股东信件里的话,他坚称连累该基金业绩的银行股在经济状况恢复时将反弹。而她从来没指责过他的所作所为,也并没有指出投资者需要等到天长地久才能从如此之深的亏损里爬出来。她也并没有抓住整个大环境或其他一些对冲基金经理的共通因素。究竟是自信,勇气,有关系还是魅力使得他们比金融业同行更成功?

“The Hedge Fund Mirage” attacks the Wall Street worshippers' blind adulation. Simon Lack, who spent 23 years at JPMorgan, an investment bank, selecting hedge funds to invest in, grew tired of the free hand that investors all too often gave managers. He has written a provocative book questioning a central tenet of the hedge-fund industry: its performance is always worth paying for. The promise of superior performance is wrong, he says. Of course some investors make a killing, but on average hedge funds have underperformed even risk-free Treasury bills. This is because the bulk of investors' capital has flooded in over the past ten years, whereas hedge funds performed best when the industry was smaller than it is now. What is more, it is hard to know how hedge funds actually fare, since indices that track industry performance tend to overstate the returns. Funds that do badly or implode are not usually included in the indices at all.

《对冲基金的海市蜃楼》对华尔街追随者的盲目崇拜进行了攻击。曾在投资银行摩根大通(JPMorgen)工作23年的Simon Lack,当时的任务是分配在对冲基金的投资。后来厌倦了投资者常常给予管理者过多的自由。他写了本具有挑衅性的书来质疑对冲基金的核心:它的业绩是物有所值的。他写道,这些对优秀业绩的承诺是错误的。当然一部分投资者是会有所猎获的,但平均来说对冲基金的表现连无风险的美国国债都不如。这是因为大部分投资者的资金都是最近这十年才涌入的,而对冲基金表现最佳的时候是比现在小的时候。更有问题的是不知道对冲基金的表现究竟如何,因为追踪业界表现的的指数通常夸大回报。那些表现很差或破产了的通常都不包括在这些指数里。

Why would any client continue to pay for such mediocre returns? One reason is that hedge-fund managers are incredibly good salesmen. In addition, industry insiders who are all too aware of hedge funds' shortcomings choose not to expose them, Mr Lack argues. Moreover, the common fee structure, in which hedge-fund managers keep 2% of assets as a “management” fee to cover expenses and 20% of profits generated by performance, has made many managers rich, but not their clients. Mr Lack calculates that hedge-fund managers have kept around 84% of profits generated, with investors only getting 16% since 1998. “Where are the customers' yachts?” is the title of one chapter. What is worse, the disastrous dive of equity markets in 2008 may have wiped out all the profits that hedge funds have ever generated for investors.

为什么客户要继续为如此普通的回报付费呢?其中一个原因是对冲基金的经理都是不可思议的优秀销售人员。同时Lack认为,非常了解对冲基金软肋的业内人士选择不披露它们。再加上通用的费用结构使得许多经理变得富裕,而非他们的客户。这些费用包括对冲基金经理每年保留总资产的2%作为支付开销的"管理费"和盈利业绩的20%。Lack计算自1998年起,对冲基金经理大约保留了84%的总利润,而投资者只拿到了16%。"客户的游艇去哪里?"是第一章的标题。更可恶的是2008股票市场灾难性跳水可能已经把对冲基金为投资者赚的所有利润都抹杀掉了。

Mr Lack places a good deal of the blame for this on investors who fail to ask tough enough questions and have not grasped that they “want yesterday's returns without yesterday's risk”. They invest money with the biggest, best-known funds “that look nothing like those whose aggregate performance” they want to emulate. Instead investors should stand up to managers, negotiate more favourable terms and put their money into smaller funds, which tend to perform better.

Lack将大部分指责都指向投资者,因为他们没有问足够深入的问题,并且没有意识到他们自己是在祈求"获得以前的回报却不希望承担对应的风险"。他们投资给最大,最有名的基金,而这些基金的累积表现跟投资者所希望模仿的表现相差甚远。投资者应该挑战经理们,跟他们协商一些更有利的条款,并将他们的钱放入小型基金里,因为这些小基金往往表现更好。

Mr Lack points out that large institutional investors always like to invest in bigger hedge funds. That way they need not worry about being the bulk of a small fund's investor-base. But he offers no solution for these large investors, who cannot put big sums into the small, nimble funds that he touts. Nor does he analyse how hedge-fund performance compares with other asset classes, such as private equity. As a result, the reader is left with a nagging unanswered question: would investors do better to avoid hedge funds altogether and, if so, where should they put their money in future?

Lack还指出大型机构投资者都喜欢投资大型对冲基金。这样他们不需要担心自己成为小基金的主要客户。大型机构不可能将大额资金放入他所推崇的那些敏捷的小基金里,而他并没有提出如何解决这些大型投资者所面临的问题。同时他也没有进行对冲基金跟其他基金的表现对比,例如私募基金。因此,这给读者留下了一个令人困惑的问题:投资者如果完全退出对冲基金,表现是不是会更好呢?如果是的话,他们以后又应该把钱投到哪里呢?

In his conclusion Mr Lack argues that most hedge-fund books are written by their “proponents”. His ambition was to spark debate and help to change the industry. Whether he succeeds or not remains to be seen. Hedge-fund executives have already reacted angrily to “The Hedge Fund Mirage”, which suggests that looking into the mirror may be painful. They rightly worry the days of easy praise are over.

在他的总结里他写道,大多数关于对冲基金的书都是由它的"拥护者"写的。他的野心在于将这场辩论点燃,并寄希望于此以改变整个行业。至于他在这一点上是否成功了,还有待考证。对冲基金总裁们已经对《对冲基金的海市蜃楼》一书表示愤怒,这显示了要面对镜子里的自己是痛苦的。他们担心民众对其慷慨赞美的日子已经终结,这倒不是杞人忧天。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
disagree [.disə'gri:]

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v. 不一致,有分歧,不适应,不适宜

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provocative [prə'vɔkətiv]

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adj. 气人的,挑拨的,刺激的
n. 刺激物

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oversee ['əuvə'si:]

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vt. 监督,监管,监视

 
aggregate ['ægrigeit,'ægrigit]

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n. 合计,总计,集合体,集料 adj. 合计的,集合的

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genius ['dʒi:njəs]

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n. 天才,天赋

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funds

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n. 基金;资金,现金(fund的复数) v. 提供资金

 
ambition [æm'biʃən]

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n. 雄心,野心,抱负,精力
vt. 有 ..

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unfortunate [ʌn'fɔ:tʃənit]

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adj. 不幸的,令人遗憾的,不成功的
n.

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adulation [,ædju'leiʃən]

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n. 谄媚;奉承

 
overstate ['əuvə'steit]

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v. 夸大的叙述,夸张

 


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