The Bias Ratio As A Hedge Fund Fraud Indicator: An Empirical Performance Study Under Different Economic Conditions

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Francois van Dyk
Gary van Vuuren
Andre Heymans


Hedge Funds, Bias Ratio, Fraud, Risk Management, Sharpe Ratio


The Sharpe ratio is widely used as a performance evaluation measure for traditional (i.e., long only) investment funds as well as less-conventional funds such as hedge funds. Based on mean-variance theory, the Sharpe ratio only considers the first two moments of return distributions, so hedge funds characterised by complex, asymmetric, highly-skewed returns with non-negligible higher moments may be misdiagnosed in terms of performance. The Sharpe ratio is also susceptible to manipulation and estimation error. These drawbacks have demonstrated the need for augmented measures, or, in some cases, replacement fund performance metrics. Over the period January 2000 to December 2011 the monthly returns of 184 international long/short (equity) hedge funds with investment mandates that span the geographical areas of North America, Europe, and Asia were examined. This study compares results obtained using the Sharpe ratio (in which returns are assumed to be serially uncorrelated) with those obtained using a technique which does account for serial return correlation. Standard techniques for annualising Sharpe ratios, based on monthly estimators, do not account for serial return correlation this study compares Sharpe ratio results obtained using a technique which accounts for serial return correlation. In addition, this study assess whether the Bias ratio supplements the Sharpe ratio in the evaluation of hedge fund risk and thus in the investment decision-making process. The Bias and Sharpe ratios were estimated on a rolling basis to ascertain whether the Bias ratio does indeed provide useful additional information to investors to that provided solely by the Sharpe ratio.


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