Hedge Fund Research's Global Hedge Fund Index was down 3.04 percent in November, after a drop of 9.26 percent in October (see FIN Alternatives article). That brings the index down 22.3% YTD through November. Continued poor performance has increased redemption requests, causing an increasing number of hedge funds to block investors from redeeming shares (see NY Times article). The increased addition of illiquid investments over the years (such as real estate and private equity) has caused many funds to start considering a new model that would require longer lock-up times for lower fees. High-water marks, which would force some under-performing funds to earn back 25 percent or more before taking profit fees, will cause additional funds to close, although others insist they will take the high road and not close until they are profitable again.

As of the end of last week, approximately 100 hedge funds have placed restrictions on withdraws, in what is becoming a financial roach motel where investors can check in, but they cannot check out (see Bloomberg article). The increased use of gates has even spread to some of the previous stars of the industry, such as Fortress Investment Group, Tudor Investment Corp., and D.E. Shaw & Company (see WSJ article). Furthermore, the problems are even worse for those funds investing in emerging markets, which continue to under-perform and are down an additional 1.41% on average in November (see Bloomberg article).

Finally, even with new gating restrictions, some hedge funds are also being forced to renegotiate borrowing terms with their prime brokerage lenders as losses and redemption requests increase (see Financial Times article). Many prime brokers are also seeing this as an opportunity to drop clients or renegotiate terms that were originally in favor of the large hedge funds who previously had bargaining power. No doubt many large investors with liquidity will be able to throw their weight around in a similar way as they begin renegotiating lower fee structures in return for longer lockup periods.