Chapter 1

Introduction to Global Macro Hedge Funds

Joseph G. Nicholas

Founder and Chairman of HFR Group

The global macro approach to investing attempts to generate outsized positive returns by making leveraged bets on price movements in equity, currency, interest rate, and commodity markets. The macro part of the name derives from managers’ attempts to use macroeconomic principles to identify dislocations in asset prices, while the global part suggests that such dislocations are sought anywhere in the world.

The global macro hedge fund strategy has the widest mandate of all hedge fund strategies whereby managers have the ability to take positions in any market or instrument. Managers usually look to take positions that have limited downside risk and potentially large rewards, opting for either a concentrated risk-taking approach or a more diversified portfolio style of money management.

Global macro trades are classified as either outright directional, where a manager bets on discrete price movements, such as long U.S. dollar index or short Japanese bonds, or relative value, where two similar assets are paired on the long and short sides to exploit a perceived relative mispricing, such as long emerging European equities versus short U.S. equities, or long 29-year German Bunds versus short 30-year German Bunds. A macro trader’s approach to finding profitable trades is classified as either discretionary, meaning managers’ subjective opinions of market conditions lead them to the ...

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