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Higher risk, lower returns: What hedge fund investors really earn

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  • Dichev, Ilia D.
  • Yu, Gwen
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    Abstract

    The returns of hedge fund investors depend not only on the returns of the funds they hold but also on the timing and magnitude of their capital flows in and out of these funds. We use dollar-weighted returns (a form of Internal Rate of Return (IRR)) to assess the properties of actual investor returns on hedge funds and compare them to buy-and-hold fund returns. Our main finding is that annualized dollar-weighted returns are on the magnitude of 3% to 7% lower than corresponding buy-and-hold fund returns. Using factor models of risk and the estimated dollar-weighted performance gap, we find that the real alpha of hedge fund investors is close to zero. In absolute terms, dollar-weighted returns are reliably lower than the return on the Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500 index, and are only marginally higher than the risk-free rate as of the end of 2008. The combined impression from these results is that the return experience of hedge fund investors is much worse than previously thought.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Financial Economics.

    Volume (Year): 100 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 248-263

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:100:y:2011:i:2:p:248-263

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505576

    Related research

    Keywords: Hedge fund Dollar-weighting Investor capital flows Fund alpha;

    References

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    1. Carl Ackermann & Richard McEnally & David Ravenscraft, 1999. "The Performance of Hedge Funds: Risk, Return, and Incentives," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(3), pages 833-874, 06.
    2. Amin, Gaurav S. & Kat, Harry M., 2003. "Hedge Fund Performance 1990–2000: Do the “Money Machines” Really Add Value?," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(02), pages 251-274, June.
    3. Fung, William & Hsieh, David A, 1997. "Empirical Characteristics of Dynamic Trading Strategies: The Case of Hedge Funds," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(2), pages 275-302.
    4. Frazzini, Andrea & Lamont, Owen A., 2008. "Dumb money: Mutual fund flows and the cross-section of stock returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 299-322, May.
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    15. Geetesh Bhardwaj & Gary B. Gorton & K. Geert Rouwenhorst, 2008. "Fooling Some of the People All of the Time: The Inefficient Performance and Persistence of Commodity Trading Advisors," NBER Working Papers 14424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Friesen, Geoffrey C. & Sapp, Travis R.A., 2007. "Mutual fund flows and investor returns: An empirical examination of fund investor timing ability," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(9), pages 2796-2816, September.
    17. Vikas Agarwal & Naveen D. Daniel & Narayan Y. Naik, 2009. "Role of Managerial Incentives and Discretion in Hedge Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(5), pages 2221-2256, October.
    18. Fung, William & Hsieh, David A, 2001. "The Risk in Hedge Fund Strategies: Theory and Evidence from Trend Followers," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(2), pages 313-41.
    19. Narayan Y. Naik & Tarun Ramadorai & Maria Stromqvist, 2007. "Capacity Constraints and Hedge Fund Strategy Returns," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 13(2), pages 239-256.
    20. Ilia D. Dichev, 2007. "What Are Stock Investors’ Actual Historical Returns? Evidence from Dollar-Weighted Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 386-401, March.
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    Cited by:
    1. Antonio Di Cesare & Philip A. Stork & Casper G. de Vries, 2011. "Risk measures for autocorrelated hedge fund returns," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 831, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    2. Antonio Di Cesare & Philip A. Stork & Casper G. de Vries, 2011. "Risk Measures for Autocorrelated Hedge Fund Returns," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-084/2/DSF 23, Tinbergen Institute.

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