Mutual Fund Eyed In Market Swoon As Universa’s Taleb Responds

May 17 2010 | 12:13pm ET

While much suspicion has swirled around hedge funds—and even a prime brokerage—as the cause of the precipitous drop in the stock market 11 days ago, the main culprit may have been a traditional old mutual fund house.

Waddell & Reed Financial is the unidentified firm cited by Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler as the seller of a huge number of Standard & Poor’s 500 Index e-mini contracts, Reuters reports. Gensler said last week that “one large” seller’s “bona fide hedging transaction,” was responsible for about 9% of the volume traded during the sell-off and into the recovery between 2:40 p.m. and 3 p.m. on May 6.

Overland Park, Kansas-based Waddell started selling about 10 minutes before the Dow Jones Industrial Average began its nearly 1,000 point swoon, finishing up at about 2:51 p.m., during the Dow’s equally rapid recovery, Gensler said.

Earlier suspicion had centered on hedge fund Universa Investment’s $7.5 million options trade and on prime brokerage Terra Nova Financial. Terra Nova denied that it had anything to do with the market plunge; a Universa adviser argued that searching for the immediate cause of the brief crash was missing the point entirely.

“When a bridge collapses, you don’t look at the last truck that was on it, you look at the engineer,” Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the well-known “Black Swan” economist and adviser to Santa Monica, Calif.-based Universa, told Bloomberg Television. “You’re looking for the straw that broke the camel’s back. Let’s not worry about the straw; focus on the back.”

Taleb said he was not sure what role, if any, Universa’s trade played in the short-lived crisis.

“I have absolutely no idea what Universa did, and I’m not connected, so I cannot provide an answer as the Nassim that is connected to Universa,” he said.


In Depth

High Time For A Cannabis Hedge Fund?

Sep 30 2014 | 7:07am ET

Launching a hedge fund is always a gamble, but Leslie Bocskor's decision to launch...

Lifestyle

Griffin Donates $1M To Rauner's Illinois Gov. Campaign

Sep 22 2014 | 9:29am ET

Hedge fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin definitely has a dog in this fight. The Citadel...

Guest Contributor

Appraisal Ratio Key To Evaluating Hedge Funds And Other New Investments

Sep 29 2014 | 3:07pm ET

As a former finance professor Peter Hecht experiences heartburn every time he hears...

 

Videos

Editor's Note

    Must Attend Hedge Fund Charity Events For October

    Sep 30 2014 | 9:29am ET

    The crisp Autumnal days of October are upon us, and so are a few of the hedge fund industry’s favorite charitable events. If you have never been to Rocktoberfest, well, you are missing out. And for a quieter evening of sipping and socializing, stop by HFC’s Wine Soiree. Read more…

 

Futures Magazine

September 2014 Cover

High frequency market making

High frequency trading is not evil, it is not a conspiracy and it really is not new; it is the natural evolution of the professional trading community making markets, providing liquidity and hopefully...

The Alpha Pages

TAP July/August 2014 Cover

The Alpha Pages Interview: Senator Rand Paul

Senator Paul sat down in the debut series of the Alpha Pages Interview to discuss the broken tax code, regulation surrounding Bitcoin, and his plans for the 2016 Presidential election.