Mark Spitznagel’s Hedge Fund Is Up 20-25% This Year

Mark Spitznagel

Guess who’s up about as much as John Paulson is down right now?

Mark Spitznagel, who runs a “black swan” fund called Universa, has not surprisingly been doing really well since the stock market hit its lowest level since December 2008, according to Bloomberg.

The essence of his Black Swan fund is that it invests in things that do well in rare, but highly negative economic scenarios that no one sees coming. 

The 2008 mortgage-fuelled market crash was a “black swan” event, for example.

For a while, he was reportedly losing money.  Then the stock market tanked and his bet seems to have paid off.

According to Bloomberg, “Universa, a hedge fund founded and owned by Mark Spitznagel that consults with New York University professor Nassim Taleb, had a 10-fold return this year through Aug. 8.”

Back in June, Spitznagel’s fund was betting on a market crash where the S&P to fall 40%.

Recently, Universa is said to have brought in huge gains on derivatives tied to the S&P 500 when the benchmark index fell almost 6.7% on August 8 and as the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or the VIX, increased for a record ninth straight time to 48 on Aug. 8, raising the value of options on stocks and indexes, Bloomberg reported.

From Bloomberg:

“Under Universa’s Black Swan Protection Protocols, customers invest capital equal to 1 per cent to 5 per cent of the value of assets they want to protect.  Through the Aug. 8 rout, these investors had 10-fold gains for the year on their money with Universa, equating to average returns of 20% to 25% on the full value of their protected holdings, according to the person familiar with the firm’s strategy.”