We investigate the leverage of hedge funds in the time series and cross-section. Hedge fund leverage is counter-cyclical to the leverage of listed financial intermediaries and decreases prior to the start of the financial crisis in mid-2007. Hedge fund leverage is lowest in early 2009 when the market leverage of investment banks is highest. Changes in hedge fund leverage tend to be more predictable by economy-wide factors than by fund-specific characteristics. In particular, decreases in funding costs and increases in market values both forecast increases in hedge fund leverage. Decreases in fund return volatilities predict future increases in leverage.

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