Coin-Flip Capitalism

Coin-Flip Capitalism: A Primer

An overview of the hedge fund, private equity, and venture capital industries and the implications of their recent performance.

Confronting Coin-Flip Capitalism

This paper presents the case for policymakers who favor free markets and appreciate the value of a well-functioning financial system to reform the rules governing that system.

No Need to Speculate

Opponents of a financial transaction tax seem less intent on persuading than on covering for the generic impulse that financial markets shall not be impinged upon. That impulse should be resisted.

The Returns Counter

Comprehensive benchmarking of the hedge fund, private equity, and venture capital industries against public-market indexes, updated quarterly.

Coin-Flip Capitalism: Q2 2021 Update

A review of hedge fund and private equity performance through the COVID-19 market crash.

Coin-Flip Capitalism: Q4 2020 Update

A review of the latest developments in private finance and the latest update to the Returns Counter.

Coin-Flip Capitalism: Q3 2020 Update

Commentary on developments in private finance and the Coin-Flip Capitalism debate as of Q3 2020

Returns Counter Methodology

Sources and methodology for the Coin-Flip Capitalism Returns Counter.


High-flying financial firms attract a disproportionate share of the nation’s business talent, fund lavish compensation through fees charged to public pension funds and non-profit endowments, and shape the behavior of companies in the real economy. Yet their status as a political football prevents examination of what they really accomplish—one side happily vilifies them simply because they represent capital, while the other grants them praise on the presumption that profitable market activity is inherently valuable.

Coin-Flip Capitalism aims to help policymakers and the public better understand how the hedge fund, private equity, and venture capital industries function, what social and economic value they create or destroy, and how policy should respond. Wells King’s primer introduces the relevant topics and explains why they are subjects of public concern, while the Guide to Private Equity provides an in-depth exploration of the industry’s problems. Oren Cass lays out the key failures of modern financial markets and proposes a series of substantial reforms to shift capital toward productive investment, and Chris Griswold makes the empirical, pro-market case for a financial transaction tax. Finally, the Returns Counter aggregates financial returns data into a comprehensive set of quarterly performance benchmarks for each industry.