After losses of more than 50 percent in 2007 and 2008, Cliff Asness of AQR Capital Management is starting new hedge and mutual funds–and sounding off on everything from taxes to Tea Partiers.
Clifford Asness, who runs AQR Capital Management LLC, one of the world’s biggest hedge funds, says fellow fund managers gouge their clients by charging exorbitant fees for just tracking the markets. He also takes a dim view of the administration of President Barack Obama, calling his economic team “Cossacks on a shtetl,” a reference to the Russian cavalrymen who sacked Jewish villages in Eastern Europe in the 19th century.
The hedge fund manager — who is both a University of Chicago Ph.D. and a Marvel comic book collector — is well known for his impolitic outbursts, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue.
“What kind of coward doesn’t share his views?” asks Asness, 43, as he paces his office overlooking Long Island Sound in Greenwich, Connecticut. “I believe strongly that the world is going on the wrong course.”
Asness went the wrong way three years ago. From the start of 2007 through year-end 2008, AQR’s flagship Absolute Return fund fell more than 50 percent — the kind of drawdown that’s often a death warrant for a fund. Firmwide assets tumbled to $17.2 billion in March 2009 from a peak of $39.1 billion in September 2007, according to AQR investors.
“I heard the Valkyries circling,” quips Asness, who says he identifies with action heroes like Captain America and Spider-Man. “I saw the grim reaper at my door.”