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29 Jan 2008

SEC Comissioner Says Hedge Funds May Help Solve Market Turmoil

SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins recommended that European and US regulators should learn from each other’s approach to regulating hedge funds, particularly as the hedge fund industry became more international. Atkins said he also expects hedge funds to help solve the market turmoil surrounding sub-prime US mortgage loans.

The Comissioner resisted the agency’s efforts to become involved with hedge funds since he joined the SEC as a commissioner in 2002, the Republican has also questioned the agency’s practice of not allowing hedge funds to market themselves to the general public.

"Most importantly, we must remember that hedge funds are likely to be an important part of the solution to the sub-prime crisis," he told French business school Edhec that, as far as he was able to see, hedge funds could not be blamed for the sub-prime problems.

"Hedge funds and other shareholder activists may have created a negative impression by pursuing their own self-serving agenda at times. This problem may be exacerbated by 'empty voting' and similar practices that are based on decoupling voting rights from economic interests. This is why good disclosure is so important in this area." Atkins also warned that, while shareholder activists can play a valuable role in corporate governance, they will be acting in their own interests and these will not necessarily be the same as the interests of their fellow shareholders.

Indian Policymakers Looking At Hedge Funds To Neutralize Rupee Appreciation

India has been looking to hedge funds and loans since this year's decline began in industrial growth from 11% a year ago to 9.5% in the first half of 2007-08, coupled with a fall in the expansion of India's exports demanded the rationalisation of credit rates by the central banks.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisations president Ganesh Kumar Gupta requested India's policymakers to consider establishing a hedge fund to neutralize rupee appreciation along with an apportionment of low-cost dollar loans to exporters among small and medium enterprises.

"It seems that inflation has become the sole concern of the central bank," said V.N. Dhoot, president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), reacting to the central bank's monetary policy review.

He also expressed concern for the small and medium scale sector, which in the absence of funding from equity markets and competition from cheaper imports was bearing the maximum brunt of a demand slowdown and cost of funds.