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Cliff Asness’ giant hedge fund AQR is slashing staff

Hot-tempered hedge fund manager Cliff Asness is ringing in the new year with a round of layoffs — again.

Asness’ AQR Capital — among the world’s biggest hedge funds, with a whopping $186 billion in assets under management — was handing out pink slips Wednesday in a process that one source likened to “carnage.”

“It’s bad here,” one AQR insider told The Post. “We’re hearing 15 to 20 percent of headcount getting chopped.”

Contacted Wednesday by The Post about the layoffs, a spokeswoman for the Greenwich, Conn.-based quant fund insisted the bleeding was limited to between 5 and 10 percent of its global headcount of 900.

“This continues to be a challenging time for the asset management industry,” Suzanne Escousse, AQR’s chief marketing officer, said in an emailed statement. “After conducting our annual review, we made the difficult decision to reduce headcount to balance the size of our workforce with the current needs of our clients.”

After a rough 2018, 53-year-old Asness — a former Goldman Sachs trader who has been known to smash computer screens when displeased with results — slashed staff by 10 percent amid substantial losses across its portfolio, according to reports at the time.

But 2019 was even worse, according to insiders. In April, the fund revealed in a filing that profits were down by 34 percent, spurring multiple reports that it was facing billions in redemptions by miffed clients.

The pace of redemptions went from bad to worse through the summer and fall, according to an AQR insider.

Indeed, it was only a massive inflow of cash from Vanguard later in the year — potentially billions of dollars — that helped Asness keep up appearances, the source said. Nonetheless, September filings revealed that AQR’s assets under management were down roughly 20 percent for the year.

The architect of Goldman Sachs’ quant trading operation in the mid-1990s started AQR in 1998. Asness took AQR from a $750 million fund in 2001 to $226 billion at the end of 2018.

Known for his volatile temper, outspoken political beliefs and a love of superheroes, Asness frequently took to Twitter to fight with industry rivals, the media and total strangers, deploying vulgarities and petty insults with regularity.

On Dec. 30, however, Asness abruptly deleted his Twitter account, which had amassed more than 40,000 followers.

In April, Asness told an audience at an investment conference that “I do not enjoy managing people, and they do not enjoy being managed by me.”