Hedge funds are risky, and ought to be transparent. Here's an example to illustrate "how easy it is to set up a hedge fund scam":
Hedge Fund Wizards, by Dean P. Foster and H. Peyton Young, Brookings Institution, Commentary, Washington Post: Scarcely a day goes by without another story of some large hedge fund blowing up due to bad bets. While many of the latest hedge fund casualties are linked to the subprime mortgage crisis, investors should not be lulled into thinking that the problem will be solved once the mortgage mess is mopped up.
Hedge funds are risky for another reason. It is extremely difficult to tell, based on past performance, whether a fund is being run by true financial wizards, by no-talent managers who happen to get lucky or by outright scam artists.
To illustrate how easy it is to set up a hedge fund scam, consider the following example. An enterprising man named Oz sets up a new fund with the stated aim of earning 10 percent in excess of some benchmark rate of return, say 4 percent. The fund will run for five years, and investors can cash out at the end of each year if they wish. The fee is the standard '2 and 20': 2 percent annually for funds under management, and a 20 percent incentive fee for returns that exceed the benchmark. ... [...continue reading...]