The Quick Gutting of Peter Thiel's Clarium Capital

The June numbers are in, and Peter Thiel's hedge fund is looking puny, having shrunk to just $1.5 billion in assets, from $7.8 billion in June 2008. Placed in an historical context, the PayPal co-founder's fund looks even worse.

Clarium Capital lost 4.4 percent in June, taking it to a 6 percent loss for the year, a source with knowledge of the fund tells us. The New York Post heard the same numbers. Fund assets, our source adds, are at $1.5 billion.

As the chart above shows, that's quite a fall. Clarium had $7.8 billion at the end of June 2008, the Post reports, a figure in line with other media reports at the time. It was only a few months before funds fell to $4 billion; by the end of last year they had fallen to $2 billion and would skid still lower.

The dwindling assets are fueled in part by investors withdrawing their money; the withdrawals, in turn, must have something to do with uninspiring monthly returns, shown in the chart below.

Maybe Thiel should blame the government. He is said to reign over a Silicon Valley "mafia" of former acolytes, but the libertarian has never been particularly comfortable with power when it's wielded by the government. Tech-savvy Thiel may have been smart enough to invest in Facebook, but he's had trouble navigating an economy increasingly run out of Washington.