Tuesday Morning Quaterback: It Doesn't Pay To Punt

No Wonder Hedge Funds Are Secretive -- They Don't Want You to Know Their Actual Returns: Last week Amaranth Advisors, a hedge fund that had been boasting of spectacular 25 percent returns, admitted it lost $6 billion of investors' money in high-risk trading. Tuesday Morning Quarterback has done several items in recent years on the amusing fact that hedge funds, the trendy investment vehicle of the rich -- hedge funds generally require a $1 million minimum account, and because of that are exempt from many Securities and Exchange Commission regulations intended to protect average investors -- often produce returns no better than the plain-Jane mutual funds anyone can join. Recently Jonathan Clements of the Wall Street Journal, who's become a first-rate columnist on finance, noted that hedge fund managers typically claim to have realized a 16.5 percent annual return in the past decade, besting the 11.6 percent return of the Standard & Poor's 500 on which the most common class of mutual funds is based. But Clements shows the hedge fund claims have been doctored, Enron-style, by doubling-counting successful investments while not recording losses. Adjust for this, according to calculations by Roger Ibbotson and Peng Chen of a leading capital analysis firm, and hedge funds returned 9 percent annually in the last decade. That is, the snazzy hedge funds of the rich finished behind S&P mutual funds. And hedge funds crash; plain-Jane mutual funds may decline in value if the market declines, but almost never simply lose their investors' capital. Hey millionaires, just call the 800 numbers of Fidelity, T. Rowe Price or any reputable public investment firm. You'll get a better deal.

NFL in Iran Update: Wow look at those headliner games Sunday -- Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, Jacksonville at Indianapolis. CBS had the rights to both, and both turned out to be dazzling contests. Which game did CBS show in Washington, D.C., where TMQ lurks? Neither. CBS showed our nation's capital Baltimore at Cleveland, such a woofer that my dog barked when I turned the television on. (Because CBS and Fox alternate doubleheader weekends, CBS had the contractual right to air one game this Sunday; in Washington the network exercised its right in the late slot, as Baltimore at Cleveland started late.) One of TMQ's core complaints about the NFL is that the league spares no expense to produce fabulous games, and then makes it impossible for much of the country to watch the fabulous games, owing to that monopoly that makes it impossible for millions to purchase NFL Sunday Ticket, and to programming choices by local network affiliates. If only I lived in Iran! No one in Washington, D.C., saw the Steelers-Bengals playoff rematch. But Tehran saw this contest, as Middle East TV beamed the game to Iran, kicking off at 8 p.m. Tehran time.

Take Him Out! Take Him Out! That's what TMQ and my 11-year-old, Spenser, began to chant when Mark Brunell was 22-of-22, Washington leading 28-7 in the fourth quarter against the hapless Texans. Take him out so he finishes with a perfect game! Naturally, Brunell's next pass attempt clanged incomplete.

Obscure College Score of the Week No. 2: Adams State 34, New Mexico Highlands 17. Located amidst glorious mountain scenery in Alamosa, Colo., the student center at Adams State rents rock-climbing shoes for $30 per semester or $3 per use. Regrettably the cheerleaders are the Spirit Squad, not the Eves.

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