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Kass: Blinded by the Derivatives Boom

This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on Oct. 22. EDT.

Permit me the opportunity to give you my perspective and to reflect on the intermediate-term prospects I see for the capital markets.

We live in a brave new investment world. With the explosion of hedge funds -- the newest and most aggressive and dominant investor -- riches beyond the highest degree of avarice can be only a year away.

Industrialization of America business icons (Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller, etc.) are no longer the leaders, nor are the kids of the dot-com boom (Bezos, Yang, Case, etc.); today, the masters of the universe are hedge fund managers (Ed Lampert, Stevie Cohen, Paul Tudor Jones, etc.).

And there are many hedgies who are, understandably, wannabes -- and who sometimes (arguably) misuse other people's money by worshiping at the altar of momentum in the pursuit of happiness. In the process, negatives are also sometimes ignored or, even worse, dismissed.

As such, in the pursuit of George Soros-like riches, momentum has taken a peculiarly more important role than ever. It has been almost unbridled as investors have often taken abnormal risks for normal returns in the low-interest world of 2000-07. This is true not only in the equity markets but especially true in the credit markets.

And, as a result, over the last five to seven years, following the stock market bubble of the late 1990s and the easing in monetary policy around the world in the 2000s, we entered a period in which a surplus of cash led to a shortage of good sense in the capital markets. Investors prospered in the ensuing synchronized advance in almost every asset class -- equities, private equity, fixed-income, commodities, gold and real estate.

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