Traders love volatility. Traders at hedge funds should particularly enjoy volatility, given the leeway they have to invest in a wide variety of securities and take both long and short positions. And although not all funds state it explicitly, “market neutral” performance—that is, growth in both good times and bad—is often used to justify hefty fees.
A recent study by ratings agency Moody’s compared monthly changes in a global index of hedge fund performance to the VIX index, a measure of volatility, going back to 1994. Large, sudden spikes in volatility tend to coincide with large losses for funds. “This stands to reason,” Moody’s writes, because a “sudden re-pricing of risk across the board can catch [hedge fund] managers off guard, in the same way as other market participants.” Is this yet more fodder that investors can use to renegotiate fees?