Skip to main content

Hedge Funds: Overview of Regulatory Oversight, Counterparty Risks, and Investment Challenges

GAO-09-677T Published: May 07, 2009. Publicly Released: May 07, 2009.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights


In 2008, GAO issued two reports on hedge funds--pooled investment vehicles that are privately managed and often engage in active trading of various types of securities and commodity futures and options contracts--highlighting the need for continued regulatory attention and for guidance to better inform pension plans on the risks and challenges of hedge fund investments. Hedge funds generally qualified for exemption from certain securities laws and regulations, including the requirement to register as an investment company. Hedge funds have been deeply affected by the recent financial turmoil. But an industry survey of institutional investors suggests that these investors are still committed to investing in hedge funds in the long term. For the first time hedge funds are allowed to borrow from the Federal Reserve under the Term-Asset Backed Loan Facility. As such, the regulatory oversight issues and investment challenges raised by the 2008 reports still remain relevant. This testimony discusses: (1) federal regulators' oversight of hedge fund-related activities; (2) potential benefits, risks, and challenges pension plans face in investing in hedge funds; (3) the measures investors, creditors, and counterparties have taken to impose market discipline on hedge funds; and (4) the potential for systemic risk from hedge fund-related activities. To do this work we relied upon our issued reports and updated data where possible

Full Report

Office of Public Affairs


Banking regulationCommodity futuresFederal regulationsFinancial institutionsFunds managementInformation disclosureInvestment planningInvestmentsLending institutionsOptions (securities)PensionsSecuritiesSecurities regulationTrade regulationFinancial managementRisk managementGovernment agency oversightHedge fundsTransparency