Hedge-fund managers, Wall Street’s best compensated and supposedly smartest investors, are dazed and confused.

Reeling from the worst second-quarter performance in a decade, hedge funds have scaled back trading as they struggle to figure out where markets are headed amid sometimes vicious crosscurrents in stock, commodities and other markets, according to brokers and managers. “There’s a degree of being frozen in the headlights, of not knowing what sectors to emphasize, of what securities to emphasize,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management LLC, a firm in Bedford Hills, New York, with $2 billion in hedge funds and conventional stock funds. Hedge-fund managers, who oversee $1.67 trillion in assets, are reluctant to put money to work as they are buffeted by a wide range of often conflicting political and economic forces, from fiscal policy in Europe and the U.S., to what regulations will be imposed on the financial-services and energy industries, to the growth prospects in China. In turn, smaller and fewer trades may make it harder for funds to rebound from losses incurred since May, when the industry suffered its worst decline in 18 months. “For many people, it’s a frustrating market given the high volatility and low volumes,” said Aaron Garvey, portfolio manager at MKP Capital Management LLC, a New York-based hedge fund overseeing $3.5 billion. “We are seeing strong opposing forces in the markets, which makes generating strong convictions difficult for the medium- and long-term.”
By Saijel Kishan and Katherine Burton, July 8, 2010, Bloomberg

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