Heather Flick writes at Trader Daily:
Hated by many and understood by few, most hedge funds today are not even, literally, hedged. This is an industry in need of an extreme makeover…The name “hedged fund” was coined by A.W. Jones, a late-blooming Australian immigrant who in his 40s developed a strategy for eliminating market risk by taking complementary positions. Selling some stocks short while buying others long, he built his portfolio to have equal total value, rendering market-wide moves in either direction a wash. He hedged his bets based on stock picking rather than market direction, thereby creating a win/win situation. Today’s hedge funds are private-investment pools open to a limited number of accredited (savvy, rich) participants. These pools can invest in almost anything, which encourages creative management strategies unavailable to other, more regulated funds. That’s basically it. Although governed by the rules of private offerings, partnerships and LLCs, the term “hedge fund” actually has no legal definition.
That is a nice primer. It adds to a comment of mine from before.