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Hedge fund Eisler Capital uses basis trades to add to positive year - letter

Published 09/29/2023, 05:34 AM
Updated 09/29/2023, 06:22 AM
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By Nell Mackenzie

LONDON (Reuters) -Hedge fund Eisler Capital posted a 4.17% positive performance for the year to end-August, it said in a letter to investors, benefiting from a basis-trade strategy that has regulators worried about financial stability risks.

According to the letter seen by Reuters, basis trades have been a part of the most profitable trading strategy for the $3.7 billion London-based hedge fund this year.

While the fund uses basis trades in U.S. Treasuries, it also employs them with the euro, Swiss franc and Swedish government bonds, the letter showed.

Eisler declined to comment.

Basis trades exploit the difference between any cash instrument and a derivative based on it - such the trade which has caught regulators' attentions, buying U.S. government bonds and selling futures contracts based on them.

The Bank for International Settlements warned this month that the huge build-up in speculators' Treasuries positions "is a financial vulnerability."

A Fed paper on Aug. 30 said that if these positions represent the so-called basis trades, "sustained large exposures by hedge funds present a financial stability vulnerability" warranting "diligent monitoring."

"Global macro and multi-strategy managers have recently maintained, or increased, conviction in 'higher for longer' short U.S. duration trades," said Kevin Lenaghan, chief investment officer of Ivy Academy, an investment advisory firm based in Los Angeles.

But traders will need to watch these trades in coming months, said Lenaghan.

"If inflation comes down sooner than expected this could result in a pain trade for hedge funds that maintain short duration exposure," he said.

The Eisler investor letter also showed the hedge fund uses swap derivatives to mitigate the riskiness of its positions.

Eisler's fixed-income trading strategy also plays the difference between the timeline of the U.S. ending its rate-hiking cycle and economic conditions in Europe which have hinted at recession, the letter said.

Eisler's performance slightly beats other large multi manager hedge funds which, as of Aug. 31, were up 4.1% for the year, according to a Sept. 19 note from Barclays prime brokerage. The broader industry has posted a positive 4.5% performance, the note said.

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