"This unregulated, at times volatile corner of finance — which is supposed to make money in bull and bear markets — lost $180 billion during the last three months. Investors, particularly wealthy individuals, are heading for the exits.
As the stock market plunged again on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average sinking 514 points, or 5.7 percent, the travails of the $1.7 trillion hedge fund industry loomed large. Some funds dumped stocks in September as their investors fled, and other funds could follow suit, contributing to the market plummet.
No one knows how much more hedge funds might have to sell to meet a rush of redemptions. But as the industry’s woes deepen, money managers fear hundreds or even thousands of funds could be driven out of business.
The implications stretch far beyond Manhattan and Greenwich, Conn., those moneyed redoubts of hedge-fund lords. That is because hedge funds are not just for the rich anymore. In recent years, public pension funds, foundations and endowments poured billions of dollars into these private partnerships. Now, in the midst of one of the deepest bear markets in generations, many of those investments are souring.
Granted, hedge funds are not going to disappear. In fact, some are still thriving. Even many of the ones that have stumbled this year are doing better than the mutual fund industry, which has also been hit with withdrawals that have forced their managers to sell."