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Bureaucrats Don’t Hate Hedge Funds, They Just Want Some Of That Money

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That’s the gist of today’s Wall Street Journal editorial discussing the pressure coming for tighter regulations on hedge funds from, well, just about anywhere you look. There’s Senator Charles Grassley’s letter to regulators looking for suggestions on how to regulate hedge funds. (Our bet is that they’ll somehow come up with a couple!) And Connecticut’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s mini-Spitzerism. And the noise from Germany about putting global regulations in place. (Look for more of this if Barney Frank gets control of the House Finance Committee.)
You see, a regulated industry is an industry whose players need to make campaign donations in order to influence lawmakers. It’s a pretty simple formula: regulate an industry and you instantly politicize it. Which is another way of saying that you monetize the industry for politicians.
But it’s not all about wringing donations from hedge fund managers. There’s also corporate managers who are tired of getting those pesky shareholder letters from hedge fund types, and worried they could lose their jobs as hedge funds buy up their shares. And those folks have lots of money to spend on campaign donations, as well. It’s a win-win if you’re a politician.
All the other talk—about “systemic risk” or pension funds or low-liquidity real estate millionaires—is just the sound of a policy in search of a rationale. And that policy, of course, is the enrichment of politicians. That’s always the policy.
Targeting Hedge Funds [Wall Street Journal]