Wall Street Journal editor Jim Oberman is leaving the newspaper to be a part of the hedge fund Aravt Global LLC, which is supposed to launch early next year, reports Chris Roush for Talking Biz News.

WSJ Jim Oberman

“After a bit over 4 years, today is my last day at The Wall Street Journal. I have tremendously enjoyed working with such a great group of reporters and editors.  This is not an easy place for me to leave,” Jim Oberman wrote in an email today. “On Monday I start a new job in research at a new hedge fund – Aravt Global LLC.”

Jim Oberman’s exit a taste of things to come

Hopefully, Oberman will find his new job interesting and rewarding, but we can’t help but see the decision to move from reporting on markets to getting directly involved as yet another sign that we are nearing a market top. It’s not just that he is switching from doing research for a newspaper to doing research for a financial firm, he’s leaving arguably the financial world’s best newspaper for a hedge fund that that hasn’t even proven itself.  This looks like it will be a good year for hedge funds, but 2012 saw hedge fund liquidations hit a three-year high, and new hedge funds can shutter as quickly as a new restaurant. If the stock market fumbles in response to tapering, another government shutdown, or some other system shock, a lot of the hedge funds that are currently expanding their payroll in the face of falling margins might have to start dropping people rather quickly.

Move to hedge fund is exposure, investment

It may seem like an odd comparison, no doubt Oberman has all kinds of personal and professional reasons for the change that we don’t know about, but he is still increasing his market exposure just like an investor pouring money into equities: if he believed that tapering or some other sell signal could cause the markets to crash it’s hard to imagine he would make this move.

Of course it’s dangerous to read too much into any one signal, but this is one sign among many pointing toward ‘extreme optimism,’ and all the bullishness makes some of us here a little nervous.