The golden age

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A look back at the biggest stories of the past five years, from megalaunches and IPOs to the failed SEC registration experiment and recent blowups

By Michelle Celarier

The past five years might be considered the golden age of hedge funds. At least, plenty of gold was thrown around. At the end of 2002, when Absolute Return first began tracking U.S. hedge fund assets, 100 firms with at least $1 billion each had a total of $310 billion. By the beginning of 2008, 262 firms had more than $1 billion, for