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Long short fund

Diversification is "Don't put all your eggs in one basket"? I prefer to bet some eggs will get broken. Short selling reduces risk and portfolio volatility. Long short strategies, not long only assets, are the way to go. Why do some still push long only passive poison despite overwhelming evidence of the SUPERIORITY and SAFETY of skilled long short active management?

National bias? Overweight domestic equity and fixed income? Most investors bet on the country they live in to have the best performing market so they overweight "domestic" versus "international". South Africa and Australia won the World Cup of equity index performance over the long term. Is local bias still wrecking your portfolio? Unlike them I'm biased to skills NOT geographies. I allocate capital to brilliant minds not dumb asset classes.

Negative bets "cause" failure according to those who blame short sellers. Is failure due to fundamental problems or short sellers? Have eurozone sovereign debt spreads widened due to some belatedly realizing there are no risk free bonds or credit derivatives? Some say short selling is a drag on returns, derivatives must be banned while security analysis and market timing are a waste of time. They can try their luck with index funds but I'm too conservative for that. Anyone not shorting is not hedging.

After decades of vexatious volatility, insidious inflation, debt defaults and failed financial dogma, how much longer must most investors wait to be allowed to properly diversify and allocate to genuine skill? That "long term" stock market upward drift doesn't seem to be working and "risk free" bonds carry yields woefully inadequate to compensate for their MANY risks. Even worse is that bond benchmarks force traditional investors to lend the most to those that borrow the most regardless of yield! Not what a prudent man would do. Why invest in such toxic waste as capital-weighted fixed-income bond funds? Cheap? Hardly.

Anyone competent knows FUTURE talent is detectable in any field. It just takes hard work, due diligence and experience to find the top performers in advance. Skill must be unconstrained which is why mandating good active managers to be long only gets similar results to blindfolding good football players. For those who still prefer human decisions to computer driven strategies, check out the results of world cup referees not using modern technology. Then check out the portfolio performance of investors that avoid BETTER ways of making money with skill-based strategies. If there is no such thing as investment skill, there is no such thing as sporting skill? Imagine the world cup if EVERYONE that has ever kicked a football was eligible to play. Dumb but that is what some advocate in the investment world. Buy and hold ALL stocks since "no-one" can pick stocks!

For long term investors, long/short is better aligned with economic reality than long only. People exposed to commodity price volatility have hedged with shorts and derivatives for centuries but even today there is not enough hedging of equity and credit beta risk. Those seeking consistent performance invest in skilled managers not asset managers. For funds that held the largest stocks to minimize tracking error, BP is yet another reminder that there are no blue chip, buy and hold "securities". BP stock crashed due to poor management or short sellers? If one hedge fund drops a few billion, some urge avoiding all hedge funds but when a stock loses $100 billion they don't say avoid all stocks. Argentina bonds lost over $100 billion a few years ago.

Avoid all bonds because of Greece? I recently met with a fund that blamed the "unprecedented" Greece situation for why they lost money! Proud of their terabytes of "historical" data, amazingly they were unaware Greece has had many defaults over the past 2604 years. Starting with the attempts of Solon for financial regulatory reform in 594BC and more than 100 of the past 200 years. Investors can learn a lot from the greeks. On trial for daring to challenge conventional wisdom, Socrates' prophetic last words were "Please don't forget to pay the debt".

Archimedes invented leverage and was prescient in saying "Give me enough leverage and I will move the world" considering how borrowers have moved world markets recently. It always puzzled me how pundits worried about hedge fund leverage but treated government bonds as risk free. The only risk free rate is zero. Every country is a great place for alpha from long/short NOT long only beta. Solon rule = 594 BC, Volcker rule = 2010 AD. Not much changes in finance.

Aristotle also offered investment advice. "The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure but to avoid pain" - the wise short sell and hedge downside risk to avoid portfolio pain. "Hope is the dream of the waking man" - if you hope a losing position will turn into a profit or a long only stock and bond portfolio will fund retirement liabilities you are dreaming. "A great city is not to be confounded with a populous one" - invest with great funds not necessarily the biggest managers. "The greatest virtue is those which are useful to other people" - absolute returns are very useful to clients but they can't eat relative returns in down markets.

Much hope for the future relies on dubious assumption that "stocks" eventually rise. Sorry but there is NO expected return and NO equity risk premium. NONE. Long only credit is bad, long only equity is worse, long only commodities is crazy. Over time most equities FALL as any thorough empirical examination of buy and hold confirms. Short selling permits absolute returns from the majority of stocks that go DOWN over time. In my experience bear markets create increased alpha opportunities. As with the World Cup there are always more losers than winners which makes it OPTIMAL to have more shorts than longs and benefit from the natural selection and creative destruction of the markets. 130/30 or 30/130 since MOST stocks are short sells not buys over that infamous long term.

The weakest prey are the easiest. There are far more long positions than shorts out there. Broker dealer analysts issue far more "buys" than "sells". Long only fund management has much larger AUM while weaker hedge funds tend to be LONG/short rather than long/short or market neutral. Lack of performance incentives means many long decisions aren't made for legitimate reasons. Too many stocks are bought because they are in an index NOT because they are good investments. Many bonds are held because of investment grade "ratings" regardless of yield. Low returns and high correlation in May 2010 shows little has been learnt from 2008 in terms of proper risk management, reducing market dependence or focusing on truly uncorrelated strategies.

The congenital long bias means shorting attracts a higher percentage of people who know what they are doing. In general the PROPORTION of smart money in shorts is higher than the smart money in longs. Since alpha is generated by the skilled out of the unskilled, position against where the most unskilled money is. Despite what some still(!) say, there is no evidence that risky assets rise over time or compensate for risk. Alpha is zero sum - smart money makes alpha out of dumb money. Identifying dumb money most often means looking for weak longs and taking the other side. There is obviously more dumb money on the long side than the short side.

REAL alternative investments offer alternative returns. I evaluate hedge funds to REPLACE market risk with manager risk. A "hedge fund" that is dependent on up markets is of no use. Making money in bear markets is more valuable than absolute returns in bull markets. In good economic times traditional assets perform, people have more spendable cash, greater access to credit and rising real estate prices. Individuals and plan sponsors have more earnings to contribute to DB and DC pensions. Foundations and endowments receive more from benefactors. But in negative periods for asset classes, the need INCREASES for absolute returns. In May 2010 we saw a repeat of 2008 where thousands of hedge funds MADE MONEY but the "average" did not. Beta pollutes many alleged alpha engines. Alternative beta is as unsuitable for risk averse investors as traditional beta. Absolute alpha is what to look for.

While some still believe that shorts and derivatives fuel down markets, the fact is there is not enough use of them to diversify, hedge and make money. Stock market drawdowns need not negatively impact any investor's portfolio. With so many aspects of people's lives affected by the economy, their savings and retirement plans ought to be immune to the volatility of long biased equity and credit. The bull market tide went out recently revealing many naked, overly risky, poorly constructed portfolios. And for every GOOG, EBAY or AMZN there are hundreds of failures. We get reminded of the rare stock that actually did do well over the long term but not the many, many more that disappeared or whose IPO price was the all time high.

Most of the greatest trades ever have been shorts. Whether it was John Paulson shorting subprime CDOs in 2007, George Soros the British Pound in 1992, Jesse Livermore USA stocks in 1929 or Munehisa Honma's rice short in 1789. There have been many attempts to ban short sales since Isaac Le Maire famous short sale of VOC back in 1609. VOC was established to exploit yet anther "Asia boom" like now. The only way to truly diversify or hedge a long is with a short. Why does conventional asset allocation range from 0% to 100% when investors could use -100% to +100%? Even better would be to acknowledge the failure of stategic asset allocation targets to deliver what investors actually need and put it in SKILLED uncorrelated long/short ALTERNATIVES.

Every investor needs short positions and to use derivatives. It's called hedging. Few managers have the capability to make money in bear markets. Sadly too many fail in due diligence to show they have the quality of risk management, strategy testing and expertise to deliver positive performance in negative periods. Despite the lessons of thousands of years little has been learnt about decorrelating a portfolio to underlying risk factors and immunizing against economic volatility. The fact remains that long short is better for conservative investors than long only. Eliminate beta risk factors and focus on alpha from long short market timing and skilled security selection. The TRUE drivers of portfolio performance.

Socrates said "I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world" - invest in alpha opportunities anywhere not the country you happen to be in. "The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance" - financial ignorance is abundant but there have been great returns made by the rare knowledgeable. Small losses are a cost of doing business whereas large losses stem from ignorance. The ignorant believe in long only stocks and bonds. Don't join the suckers. Hedge.

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