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Conditions for Survival: Changing Risk and the Performance of Hedge Fund Managers and CTAs

  • Stephen Brown

Investors in hedge funds and commodity trading advisors [CTA] are naturally concerned with risk as well as return. In this paper, we investigate whether hedge fund and CTA return variance depends upon whether the manager is doing well or poorly. Our results are consistent with the Brown, Harlow and Starks (1996) findings for mutual fund managers. We find that good performers in the first half of the year reduce the volatility of their portfolios, and poor performers increase volatility. These “variance strategies" depend upon the fund’s ranking relative to other funds. Interestingly enough, despite theoretical predictions, changes in risk are not conditional upon distance from the high water mark threshold, i.e. a ratcheting absolute manager benchmark. This result may be explained by the relative importance of fund termination. We analyze factors contributing to fund disappearance. Survival depends on both absolute and relative performance. Excess volatility can also lead to termination. Finally, other things equal, the younger a fund, the more likely it is to fail. Therefore our results strongly confirm an hypothesis of Fung and Hsieh (1997b) that reputation costs have a mitigating effect on the gambling incentives implied by the manager contract. Particularly for young funds, a volatility strategy that increases the value of a performance fee option may lead to the premature death of that option through termination of the fund. The finding that hedge fund and CTA volatility is conditional upon past performance has implications for investors, lenders and regulators.

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Paper provided by New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business- in its series New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires with number 99-077.

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Date of creation: 30 Jun 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fth:nystfi:99-077
Contact details of provider: Postal: U.S.A.; New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics . 44 West 4th Street. New York, New York 10012-1126
Phone: (212) 998-0100
Web page: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/finance/

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  1. Lunde, Asger & Timmermann, Allan & Blake, David, 1999. "The hazards of mutual fund underperformance: A Cox regression analysis," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 121-152, April.
  2. Stephen J. Brown & William N. Goetzmann & Roger G. Ibbotson & Stephen A. Ross, 1997. "Rejoinder: The J-Shape Of Performance Persistence Given Survivorship Bias," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(2), pages 167-170, May.
  3. Brown, Keith C & Harlow, W V & Starks, Laura T, 1996. " Of Tournaments and Temptations: An Analysis of Managerial Incentives in the Mutual Fund Industry," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(1), pages 85-110, March.
  4. William N. Goetzmann & Jonathan E. Ingersoll, Jr. & Stephen A. Ross, 2004. "High Water Marks," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm22, Yale School of Management.
  5. Brown, Stephen J, et al, 1992. "Survivorship Bias in Performance Studies," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(4), pages 553-80.
  6. Mark M. Carhart & Jennifer N. Carpenter & Anthony W. Lynch & David K. Musto, 2002. "Mutual Fund Survivorship," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(5), pages 1439-1463.
  7. Starks, Laura T., 1987. "Performance Incentive Fees: An Agency Theoretic Approach," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(01), pages 17-32, March.
  8. Mark Grinblatt & Sheridan Titman, 1989. "Adverse Risk Incentives and the Design of Performance-Based Contracts," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(7), pages 807-822, July.
  9. 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.
  10. Darryll Hendricks & Jayendu Patel & Richard Zeckhauser, 1997. "The J-Shape Of Performance Persistence Given Survivorship Bias," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(2), pages 161-166, May.
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