Wall St.
Photograph by Mario Tama—Getty Images
By Lucinda Shen
April 22, 2016

As investors grew increasingly wary about hedge fund performance, they pulled out a whopping $15 billion in the first quarter of 2016 alone.

That’s the highest level of outflows from hedge funds since the second quarter 2009, when investors redeemed a combined $43 billion.

And there is a reason for the outflows: In the first three months of 2016, hedge funds as a group lost .67% in returns. In 2015, returns fell 1.12%.

Now the question is, how much worse will it get?

Well, according to a team of JPMorgan analysts led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, hedge funders should brace for a total outflow of at least $25 billion this year.

That’s assuming the price of oil will average $45 in 2016, and investor sentiment regarding the stock markets warm up.

And all of those divestments will come from the single group that has been responsible for the majority of outflows in the first quarter: Sovereign wealth funds, a pool of money managed by a country’s government.

Several U.S. pension funds, the closest thing the country has to sovereign wealth funds, such as the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the New York City Employee’s Retirement Systems, have also decided to liquidate their hedge fund positions over the past few months. NYCERs voted to pull out $1.7 billion just a week earlier while CalPERS divested roughly $4 billion from hedge fund investments in 2014.

In the past few quarters, sovereign wealth funds, which have about $7.2 trillion in assets globally, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, have also been roughed up by market volatility and falling oil prices.

“Sovereign hedge funds were under pressure at the end of last year and the beginning of this year to sell assets to finance spending and offset capital outflows,” analysts noted.

“The worst for equity and hedge selling by sovereign wealth funds should be largely behind us,” the team wrote in a note Friday. “We believe there will be further outflows from Hedge Funds in Q2 due to notice periods for redemptions that are typically three months.”

Actual outflows from the hedge fund space, however, are likely to be higher than $25 billion, as individual investors, mutual funds, and other money managers are also subject to a three month waiting period for redemptions.

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