Hedge Fund Deleveraging Is Likely To Continue

Posted by Bull Bear Trader | 10/17/2008 08:26:00 AM | , , , , , | 0 comments »

Banks are continuing to ask for more collateral to back past hedge fund lending, causing more funds to liquidate their positions (see WSJ article). When added with investor redemption, bank-induced liquidation is forcing hedge funds to step-up their deleveraging. Such selling is continuing to put pressure on the market, generating more requests for bank collateral and investor redemption, in what amounts to a catch-22 that continues to spiral the market downward. Such selling has been occurring for a while, as funds have been unwinding exposure to financial and energy stocks, both of which continue to suffer as crude oil continues to drop, and the credit crisis continues to unfold. While Hedge Fund Research recently reported that the level of hedge fund market exposure has decreased by one-third over the last year, I suspect that this still may not be enough. As mentioned by Antonio Munoz-Sune, head of the U.S. for fund of funds EIM: "The combination can take anyone down." Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell where we are in the hedge fund closing and deleveraging process, with many hedge funds still appearing to use every rally as an opportunity to sell. I suspect that until we see the VIX approach more normal sub-30 levels, stop seeing the DJIA and S&P 500 Index post intra-day percent swings in the high single digits, and see crude oil stop falling in price, it is unlikely that the market will stop feeling the effects of hedge fund selling, allowing for a long-term and lasting rally. Like most bottoms, we won't know for sure that it has occurred until we see it in the rear-view mirror, but I will be watching the VIX, the price of crude oil, and the Dow Jones and S&P 500 index percent swings for clues.