A difficult future lies ahead

Q. What kind of return would you expect on a private-equity fund?

A. About 20%.

Q. What kind of return would you expect on a hedge fund?

A. About 20%.

Q. Should those types of investments consistently beat mainstream, big-cap stocks?

A. Of course, that's why they were created.

It may be time to think again. In the last decade, two big alternatives to investing in traditional, mainstream equity and bond markets have emerged: private-equity funds, including both venture capital and leveraged-buy-out ope