E book Review: Damsel in Distressed


Damsel in Distressed: My Life within the Golden Age of Hedge Funds. 2021. Dominique Mielle. Post Hill Press.

In Damsel in Distressed, Dominique Mielle educates and enchants with a mesmerizing memoir of her life — not solely as a disciplined and consummate monetary skilled but in addition as an distinctive chief amongst hedge fund performers and innovators. None of that’s obvious because the guide begins, when she describes her early years within the business and dazzles the reader with all of the alternatives that in these days represented low-hanging fruit for hedge fund traders. Not solely have been the alternatives thrilling for her; they contrasted dramatically together with her earlier, grueling each day experiences as an funding banker, which impressed her to attend enterprise college at Stanford in hopes of shifting on to raised prospects.

Mielle landed at Canyon Partners, LLC, and thrived there for 20 years, grappling with a plethora of investing challenges — from the wild journey of late 1998 to 2001 to the 2007–2008 world monetary disaster, and past. Her profession parallels the fast development in hedge funds, however she provides a particular issue: a eager capacity to establish alternative the place nobody else appears to, which emerged after she had served as an analyst in lots of conditions and industries.

Mielle tells vivid tales of study throughout industries and thru a number of bankruptcies that may delight analysts — despite the fact that lots of the corporations are gone for good. She honed her monetary creativity via relentless evaluation of conditions, together with rigorous threat evaluation, and she or he clearly recognized conditions that have been uncorrelated with any market or rate of interest. Readers will probably be cheered to be taught that Canyon administration understood her hypotheses and acknowledged their potential for producing a worthwhile institutional product.

Mielle offers wonderful perspective on the hedge fund business’s evolution. For one, she clearly addresses its emergence and its preliminary “title” gamers within the early Nineteen Nineties. Her explanations allow the reader to know how these funds multiplied so quickly (via 2008). Hedge funds thrived on market and data inefficiencies. Some of us bear in mind the pre-EDGAR instances that resulted in 1996. Before then, we needed to anticipate corporations to disseminate outcomes or filings through fax or snail mail, and a few operators invariably acquired these filings earlier than others.

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Mielle lays out the modifications in compliance that challenged the business gamers as time handed, from Regulation FD (truthful disclosure) in 2000 to the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which took impact in 2016. The latter laws affected collateralized mortgage obligation (CLO) buildings by reworking a low-fee, capital-light CLO enterprise right into a low-fee, capital-intensive one. Mielle labored round this downside by inventing a special-purpose fairness fund that preserved the CLO’s integrity and profitability. Called a capitalized supervisor car (CMV), it retained the fairness of the CLOs issued. The CMV retained a part of the danger, as required by Dodd–Frank, but it surely was not capitalized with the agency’s personal cash.

The creator addresses one theme repeatedly: The glory days of hedge fund investing have handed. Why? Up till roughly 2008, small, scrappy, nimble hedge funds might file outperformance and distinctive returns, materially exceeding the indices. Success, nevertheless, bred elevated fund dimension, which turned the enemy of outperformance. Competition elevated, enabling traders to press for more-advantageous, performance-based charges. Faced with narrower revenue margins, the hedge fund business shifted to pursuit of asset development somewhat than return.

The guide accommodates many vivid photos with no single web page of images. The first one that may have many readers howling is the creator’s encounter with Bill Sharpe. Mielle takes us again to highschool days we’d somewhat neglect together with her description of the “Touchy/Feely” Interpersonal Dynamics course at Stanford. Her expertise in Brest, France, is a hoot. Around the world she went, taking each assembly critically, being meticulously effectively ready, by no means complaining, however subjected to quite a few huge and little humiliations.

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Damsel in Distressed excels for a large number of causes. The guide offers an genuine, firsthand account and relates an extended, rising, uninterrupted profession at a single agency throughout the interval of quickest development within the hedge fund business. Its creator is an excellent and broad-minded participant who as well as is likely one of the business’s uncommon feminine leaders. She additionally proves to be powerful, good humored, and resilient, each in her profession and outdoors of it. I’m “distressed” to learn it for just one motive: It is the primary substantial guide I’ve learn authored by a number one girl in finance since Karen Firestone’s Even the Odds: Sensible Risk-Taking in Business, Investing, and Life in 2016.

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All posts are the opinion of the creator. As such, they shouldn’t be construed as funding recommendation, nor do the opinions expressed essentially replicate the views of CFA Institute or the creator’s employer.

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Janet J. Mangano

Janet J. Mangano, previously a senior portfolio supervisor with PNC Wealth, is in Short Hills, New Jersey.


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