There have been five great mass extinctions in Earth’s history. We may be living in (and causing!) the sixth. But natural extirpations take many forms. That of the possible Hedgefundocene extinction running alongside the Holocene has not been of the short, sharp end of existence, but more of a roller coaster, with periods of apparently unsustainable die-offs before a surprising spurt of survival. But in recent months, things have taken a turn for the worse. It’s been a long time since 200 hedge funds were born in any given quarter, while in the last nine quarters at least 200 have died in four. And the ratio is currently far below replacement level: 30 more passed on to eternity in the third quarter than entered the world. Just 111 blinked into a cold, unfeeling world in the fourth quarter, 215 exited. Things got a bit better in the first quarter of this year, but not enough to ensure a thriving, healthy, reproducing population.

About 213 funds closed in the first three months of this year, compared with 136 that opened, according to a Hedge Fund Research Inc. report Friday. Liquidations remained steady from the prior quarter, while launches rose about 23%.

On the bright side, those survivors are feasting on the remains of their less-well-adapted fellows, in spite of being distinctly unable to feast on the market rally.

The average management fee for funds launched in the first quarter declined 10 basis points to 1.19%, while the average incentive fee was 18.79% -- an increase from 17.9% for funds started in 2018.

Hedge funds, on average, rose 3% in the first quarter on an asset-weighted basis, according to HFR, lagging the S&P 500 Index, which gained 13.7%, with dividends reinvested, in that period.

Hedge Fund Closings Outnumber Launches Again [Bloomberg]

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