Founder of $6.2 billion SkyBridge Capital and the annual SALT conference that starts here today. “I want to popularize the industry,” he said from his lavish suite at the Bellagio Hotel.
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Popularize it he has. Now in its fourth year, SALT features big-name politicos Al Gore, Karl Rove and Sarah Palin alongside such hedge fund moguls as Elliott Capital Management’s Paul Singer, Third Point’s Dan Loeb and Harbinger Capital’s Phil Falcone — the glitterati who have made SALT the hedge fund industry’s Davos.
But the bulk of the 2,100 attendees are like most Americans who come to Vegas: they hope to strike it rich. That is getting harder to do by investing in hedge funds, where an influx of money mixed with diminished opportunities has pummeled returns. Over the past three years, hedge funds have underperformed the markets. Last year hedge funds fell 5 percent while the S&P 500 was flat and the Dow gained 5 percent.
The vehicle Scaramucci runs — a fund of funds that invests in a number of top managers — has not escaped the trend. Its main portfolio lost 0.63 percent last year and is up 6.78 percent through March. This year, the SALT conference will make about $1 million, but Scaramucci is plowing the profits into his first conference in Singapore, slated for October.
Salesman that he is, Scaramucci is an optimist. A co-finance chair for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, Scaramucci says whoever wins in November will revitalize US manufacturing, bringing jobs home and boosting the economy and markets. Once that happens, he believes hedge funds will once again outperform mutual funds and broader markets.
Since he’s an Italian-American in Vegas, Scaramucci has decided to have some fun with it. The theme of Thursday night’s poolside festivities will be a “Feast of San Gennaro” complete with a Frank Sinatra look-alike.
Sprott, who runs $9 billion Sprott Asset Management, has been bullish on precious metals.
While gold is still up over 4% YTD, silver has been off ~20% YTD.
Wapner tried to go after Sprott about silver.
Wapner: “…You’ve called silver ‘the investment of the next decade–'”
Sprott: “Correct. I’ll tell you why I haven’t change my mind on gold. First of all…”
Ha! Nice deflection. Sprott simultaneously acknowledged the silver matter while also sending Wapner the signal that he wasn’t going to talk about silver at that moment.