Hedge funds are private, actively managed investment funds. They invest in a diverse range of markets, investment instruments, and strategies and are subject to the regulatory restrictions of their country. U.S. regulations limit hedge fund participation to certain classes of accredited investors.

Hedge funds are often open-ended, and allow additions or withdrawals by their investors. A hedge fund’s value is calculated as a share of the fund’snet asset value, meaning that increases and decreases in the value of the fund’s investment assets (and fund expenses) are directly reflected in the amount an investor can later withdraw.

Most hedge fund investment strategies aim to achieve a positive return on investment regardless of whether markets are rising or falling. Hedge fund managers typically invest money of their own in the fund they manage, which serves to align their own interests with those of the investors in the fund. A hedge fund typically pays its investment manager an annual management fee, which is a percentage of the assets of the fund, and aperformance fee if the fund’s net asset value increases during the year. Some hedge funds have a net asset value of several billion dollars. As of 2009, hedge funds represented 1.1% of the total funds and assets held by financial institutions. As of April 2012, the estimated size of the global hedge fund industry was US$2.13 trillion.

Because hedge funds are not sold to the general public or retail investors, the funds and their managers have historically been exempt from some of the regulation that governs other funds and investment managers with regard to how the fund may be structured and how strategies and techniques are employed. Regulations passed in the United States and Europe after the 2008 credit crisis were intended to increase government oversight of hedge funds and eliminate certain regulatory gaps.

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