Hedge Fund Assets Fall In First Quarter

May 21 2008 | 4:04pm ET

For the first time on record, the hedge fund industry is actually shrinking, according to HedgeFund.net.

The research firm’s first-quarter asset flows report show that total hedge fund assets fell 1.4% in the first three months of the year, as performance losses outstripped $53 billion in inflows. The quarterly decline—the first ever recorded by HFN—leaves hedge funds managing $2.848 trillion.

Fixed-income hedge funds—despite performance losses—were a favorite of investors, with assets rising by 3.6% to $554.8 billion. Meanwhile, redemptions and performance losses left equity hedge fund assets down 5.4% at $1.038 trillion.

Emerging markets, last year’s top-performing strategy, saw dreadful performance wipe out any asset gains from inflows, as $27.8 billion in losses swamped $9.45 billion in new money, leaving such funds down 5.5%. Latin America funds bucked that trend, with assets rising 29.8% to $21.28 billion due to new fund launches and inflows.

Distressed and CTA/managed futures funds were also favored by investors, the latter seeing its asset level rise 15.3% to $196 billion, and the former 3.3% to $252.3 billion.

Funds of hedge funds, by contrast with the industry as a whole, more than made up for their performance losses through new investments. Investors poured $71.9 billion, while the market subtracted $57.2 billion, leaving funds of funds up 1.1% at $1.404 trillion.

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