Looking back on Andrew Lahde's parting shot

By Josh Friedlander

Wed Oct 23, 2013

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Absolute Return also revisits a push to reduce the national debt.


One year ago

Prominent hedge fund managers urged Washington to reduce the national debt. Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management, Tom Steyer of Farallon Capital Management, Lee Ainslie of Maverick Capital and John Burbank of Passport Capital were among the business leaders to sign on with the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a non-partisan group founded by former deficit commissioners Al Simpson and Erskine Bowles.

So far, efforts to reduce the debt have been less than effective. The national debt recently surpassed $17 trillion for the first time. It stood at $17,078 trillion as of October 23, up from $16,066 on September 30, 2012.

Five years ago

To read the mainstream press, you'd have thought the sky was falling. "The gilded age of hedge funds is losing its luster," pronounced The New York Times. The Grey Lady later added, "now that the days of easy money are over, some fund managers are throwing in the towel," which gave the paper the opportunity to cite Andrew Lahde, a manager who made a killing on subprime bets and then quit the business with a swan song investor letter that remains one of the industry's most amusingly missives.

Written October 18, 2008, Lahde wrote "not to gloat" but to "say goodbye."

"Recently, on the front page of Section C of the Wall Street Journal, a hedge fund manager who was also closing up shop (a $300 million fund), was quoted as saying, 'What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it.' I could not agree more with that statement," Lahde wrote. "I was in this game for the money." More of that letter here.