New MFA Chief Vows To Fight Hedge Fund Regulations

Apr 9 2008 | 7:32am ET

The new head of the U.S. hedge fund industry’s chief lobbying group is politely throwing down the gauntlet on new regulations.

Richard Baker, the former Louisiana congressman who took over as CEO of the Managed Funds Association in February, said his group would fight any attempt to regulate the hedge fund industry. He said he planned to “educate” his former colleagues about the benefits of hedge funds while pushing for risk mitigation techniques that come from within the industry.

“Arbitrary restraint would come at a great cost to the American economy,” Baker told Reuters. One of the first lawmakers to sponsor a bill explicitly regulating hedge funds, he added, “Anything that impairs out ability to function needs to be carefully thought through.”

Expressing relief that the credit crunch and collapse of Bear Stearns have shifted attention away from hedge funds, Baker said he expects more regulation and still worries that hedge funds will become a “whipping boy” for the failings of the financial markets.

He also said that the MFA—which recently announced an alliance with the U.K.’s chief hedge fund lobby group, the Alternative Investment Management Association—is hoping to end a schism in hedge fund lobbying in Washington. Baker said he recently met with Kynikos Associates founder Jim Chanos, who last year set up a separate trade association after criticizing the MFA’s inadequate Washington representation.

“We hope to have an agreement with him” on an alliance, Baker said.

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