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Hedgeweek Comment: The power of the spoken word

Many people would agree that discussion is the best way to resolve any conflict. At a time when blame is freely being flung around for the global financial turmoil, hedge fund managers must be glad that they are getting a chance to voice their opinions and listen to others' concerns with US lawmakers this week.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the regulation of hedge funds and has called upon various top hedge fund managers to answer questions on topics ranging from their pay to influence on the markets.

The hedge fund gurus are likely to include Philip Falcone, Kenneth Griffin, John Paulson, James Simons and George Soros (photo), who will each have several minutes to make opening remarks and then will have to answer questions from the legislators.

Among other topics, the committee plans to ask the managers whether their funds pose systemic risks to the markets because of the size of their trades and the large sums of money they borrow (or used to borrow) from banks.

Hedge fund managers are bracing themselves for a fresh wave of regulatory measures. Less than two months ago they found themselves subject to a range of short-selling bans and other restrictions, many of which are still in force, and they fear closer monitoring as well as the curbing of some trading techniques.

In that environment, the opportunity to give their side of the argument can only be welcome. As UK economist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Angell once said: 'It is not the facts which guide the conduct of men, but their opinions about facts; which may be entirely wrong. We can only make them right by discussion.'

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