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An Excursion into the Statistical Properties of Hedge Funds

Abstract: This paper provides an overview of the most important statistical properties of individual hedge fund returns. We find that the net-of-fees monthly returns of the average individual hedge fund exhibit significant degrees of negative skewness, excess kurtosis, as well as positive first-order serial correlation. The correlations between hedge funds in the same strategy group are of the same order of magnitude as the correlations between funds in different strategy groups and relatively low. Only 10-20% of the variation in the average individual hedge fund's returns can be explained by what happens in the US equity and bond markets. Compared to individual funds, portfolios of hedge funds tend to exhibit lower skewness, higher serial correlation and higher correlation with stocks and bonds. Movements in the US equity and bond markets still only explain 20-40% of the variation in hedge fund portfolios returns though. Finally, an equally-weighted portfolio of all funds in our sample offers a 2.76% higher mean return than the average fund of funds. This strongly suggests that the timing and fund picking activities of the average fund of funds are not rewarded by a higher return.

Published on 6th September 2011
Authors Harry Kat, Sa Lu
Series Reference 2002-12