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No hedging: Amaranth is on the way out

Kai Ryssdal Sep 27, 2006
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KAI RYSSDAL: Here’s the way things work on Wall Street sometimes. A hedge fund bets big on natural gas prices. Loses $6 billion. Soaks pension funds around the country. But there’s nothing wrong with the way things work on Wall Street. That’s what one member of the Securities and Exchange Commission said today.

SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins said we don’t need new rules for hedge funds. He was referring to the market scandal of the moment. The collapse of a fund called Amaranth Advisors. There’s word today Amaranth plans to wind itself down. Sell off the bits of the company it can and pay off angry investors. To refresh your memory, just two weeks ago Amaranth seemed healthy until it admitted to huge losses in the natural gas markets.

Jim Angel teaches finance at Georgetown University. He says it’s no surprise that Amaranth’s death came so suddenly:

JIM ANGEL: A financial firm, especially one that relies on a lot of borrowing, like a hedge fund, once it loses it’s credibility, it’s dead.

Tough love, maybe. But Angel says there’s a reason.

ANGEL: Reputation and integrity are at the heart of financial markets. And if you do anything to damage that trust, you’re dead.