The Bogleheads forum is buzzing with news that Vanguard has set up an Alternative Strategies Fund in Dublin and filed for “exemptive relief” to allow its US Managed Payouts Funds to invest in the newfangled creature.
Vanguard is cherished by its investors partly for sticking to simple investing formulas that keep costs as low as possible. It is unsettling for them to see the mutual fund group setting off down a path labelled “alternative”. It smacks of hedge funds and other horrors.
FTfm’s Steve Johnson looked into the debate over active vs passive management in our last issue, with reference to Norway’s state pension fund. He also interviewed Yngve Slyngstad , chief executive of Norges Bank Investment Management, the arm of Oslo’s central bank that manages the fund. Mr Slyngstad thinks there is no debate. Here’s Steve’s investigation for FTfm’s Big Picture.
Norway’s active vs passive debate
By Steve Johnson
Like death and taxes, the debate over the relative merits of active and passive investment will probably always be with us.
But the spat in Norway over the future direction of the Nordic country’s NKr2,500bn (£266bn, €307bn, $433bn) oil-powered Government Pension Fund has helped illuminate the debate, at least as it applies to large institutional funds.
FTfm’s new forum is under construction, but some of the fine details are taking longer to iron out than originally thought. So, rather than leave the blogosphere altogether, we will be continuing with our old format until we’re ready for our re-launch.
Apparently more than a thousand amendments have been tabled for the Alternative Investment Fund Management directive, Brussels’ attempt to bring private equity and hedge funds under its loving control.
This unprecedented level of rewriting during the legislative process is a testament to the inexorable sway of the alternative asset management industry. The original, draconian, draft of the AIFM was seen as a shy at the ever popular Aunt Sally of hedge funds, or ‘locusts’ as they are known in Germany. The usually painstaking and thoughtful asset management unit of the European Commission’s internal markets division had apparently come under political pressure to bring out a hardhitting draft directive in a hurry.
At leisure, however, even the European Parliament found regulating a European hedge fund industry too harshly might not be that good an idea. Its own impact study found implementation of the proposed directive as it stood could result in a 0.2 per cent contraction in the combined GDP of the European Union.
Possibly, however, the initial announcement and pained squawks for the industry were enough to satisfy the hedge fund haters, and now the tedious work of actually piecing together something actually workable can be done out of the glare of the media spotlight.
Certainly the number of journalists prepared to dig through all 1000+ amendments is likely to be as slim as the number of readers prepared to read about them.