The Alpha Masters: Unlocking the Genius of the World’s Top Hedge Funds
By Maneet Ahuja
Published by John Wiley & Sons
It’s not a great time to be a hedge fund manager. Last year was the “second-worst year for hedge funds on record”, says the FT. Faced with a combination of falling markets, accusations of overcharging and a regulatory crackdown, many big funds have shut up shop. However, although the sector has its fair share of charlatans, it has also attracted some of the globe’s most successful investors. It’s the latter that interest Maneet Ahuja.
Her book, due to be published next month, looks at 11 hedge fund managers. Rather than just focusing on the well-known stars – such as Henry Paulson of Paulson & Co and Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, who both feature – Ahuja profiles managers who have quietly built big reputations.
As well as summarising their strategies, Ahuja details their careers, how they became money managers and tries to get their views on where the industry is headed. As a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and the current producer of CNBC’s Squawk Box, she is clearly comfortable interviewing big hitters.
As a result, she gets some decent insights on topics such as Paulson’s poor performance last year and William Ackman’s experience of being investigated by the now-disgraced former New York Governor Eliott Spitzer. As Business Insider says, “there’s definitely something to be learned for investors on all levels or for those who are just curious to learn more about the industry”.
The criticism I have is that, although the individual stories work well, the result is a book that feels like a collection of profiles without much of an overarching narrative. As David Merkel on SeekingAlpha.com puts it, “even a single chapter at the front or back would have enriched the book, making it more general and cohesive”. The only attempt to link the chapters together comes in an afterword from Nobel prize-winning economist Myron Scholes. This is very interesting but far too short.
Overall, though, this is a well-written book about some of the more colourful figures in the world of high-stakes investing. Anyone looking for a decent holiday read could do a lot worse.
• The Alpha Masters: Unlocking the Genius of the World’s Top Hedge Funds, by Maneet Ahuja. Published in July by John Wiley & Sons, £19.99.
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