Despite closer monitoring by regulators, hedge funds still pose significant risks to the financial system, a government report said Monday.
The loosely regulated capital pools favored by the rich and by large financial institutions “require continued monitoring by regulators and counterparties,” according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
The study found that hedge funds’ inclination to take substantial risks with increasingly large sums of money — and to leverage those bets — means losses can spread and be magnified throughout the financial system.
The report said banks eager to do business with hedge funds often are not critical enough when assessing the risks of their complex investment strategies.
The G.A.O. study comes at a tough time for hedge funds, which last month reported heavy average losses in a slumping stock market. In December, new money invested in hedge funds hit its lowest level in two years as investors cooled to the sector.
As it has grown in size and gained public attention, the hedge fund industry has fought a series of battles over regulation and taxation on Capitol Hill and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, with mixed results
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