Gregory Zuckerman’s The Man Who Solved the Market is well-written with engaging characters and a plot that gets better, making it a worthwhile read for those interested in investment.
The book follows the story of Jim Simons and his record-breaking Medallion hedge fund. Objectively, this is the best performing hedge fund of all time. Over a 30 year period, the fund has delivered a staggering 66.1% pa in investment returns. Almost as extraordinary as the investment returns are the fees that investors pay to Renaissance (the asset management firm founded by Simons). Even accounting for the colossal fees, the fund delivers returns of 39.1% pa, well in excess of famous investors such as George Soros, Warren Buffett and Ray Dalio. This phenomenal success alone makes this an enticing read for investment buffs, before accounting for the additional intrigue provided by the Bob Mercer / Donald Trump storyline.
It is probably fair to say that Simons does not enjoy the same fame as the likes of Soros and Buffett despite Medallion’s extraordinary performance. This is probably down to the relative secrecy of Renaissance. The book starts with Zuckerman recalling warnings from Renaissance staff that he would struggle to find enough content to write the story. Zuckerman does manage to garner enough information to provide a well-explained and broadly understandable overview of some of the strategies deployed by Medallion (which mainly are statistical arbitrage based strategies). However, for readers familiar with quantitative hedge fund strategies, it does read a bit similar to other books and articles on these hedge funds and the book doesn’t really give the “what was so special about Medallion and Renaissance” that I was hoping for. Perhaps I was being a tad optimistic to expect proper insight into such a lucrative and secretive operation, but it does feel a bit “nothing new” in this regard.