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Copycat Funds: Information Disclosure Regulation and the Returns to Active Management in the Mutual Fund Industry

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  • Mary Margaret Myers
  • James M. Poterba
  • Douglas A. Shackelford

Abstract

Mutual funds must disclose their portfolio holdings to investors semiannually. The costs and benefits of such disclosures are a long-standing subject of debate. For actively managed funds, one cost of disclosure is a potential reduction in the private benefits from research on asset values. Disclosure provides public access to information on the assets that the fund manager views as undervalued. This paper tries to quantify this potential cost of disclosure by testing whether 'copycat' mutual funds, funds that purchase the same assets as actively-managed funds as soon as those asset holdings are disclosed, can earn returns that are similar to those of the actively-managed funds. Copycat funds do not incur the research expenses associated with the actively-managed funds that they are mimicking opportunity to invest in assets that managers identify as positive return opportunities between disclosure dates. Our results for a limited sample of high expense funds in the 1990s suggest that while returns before expenses are significantly higher for the underlying actively managed funds relative to the copycat funds, after expenses copycat funds earn statistically indistinguishable, and possibly higher, returns than the underlying actively managed funds. These findings contribute to the policy debate on the optimal level and frequency of fund disclosure.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8653.

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Date of creation: Dec 2001
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Publication status: published as Frank, Mary Margaret & Poterba, James M & Shackelford, Douglas A & Shoven, John B, 2004. "Copycat Funds: Information Disclosure Regulation and the Returns to Active Management in the Mutual Fund Industry," Journal of Law & Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 515-41, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8653

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  1. Mark M. Carhart & Ron Kaniel & David K. Musto & Adam V. Reed, 2002. "Leaning for the Tape: Evidence of Gaming Behavior in Equity Mutual Funds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(2), pages 661-693, 04.
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  3. Admati, Anat R & Pfleiderer, Paul, 2000. "Forcing Firms to Talk: Financial Disclosure Regulation and Externalities," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 13(3), pages 479-519.
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  5. Foster, George, 1980. " Externalities and Financial Reporting," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 35(2), pages 521-33, May.
  6. Josef Lakonishok & Andrei Shleifer & Richard Thaler & Robert Vishny, 1991. "Window Dressing by Pension Fund Managers," NBER Working Papers 3617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Verrecchia, Robert E., 1983. "Discretionary disclosure," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 179-194, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Kempf, Alexander & Kreuzberg, Klaus, 2004. "Portfolio disclosure, portfolio selection and mutual fund performance evaluation," CFR Working Papers 04-09, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  2. Agarwal, Vikas & Gay, Gerald D. & Ling, Leng, 2013. "Window dressing in mutual funds," CFR Working Papers 11-07 [rev.2], University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  3. Agarwal, Vikas & Mullally, Kevin & Tang, Yuehua & Yang, Baozhong, 2013. "Mandatory portfolio disclosure, stock liquidity, and mutual fund performance," CFR Working Papers 13-04, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  4. Cici, Gjergji & Gibson, Scott & Moussawi, Rabih, 2010. "Mutual fund performance when parent firms simultaneously manage hedge funds," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 169-187, April.
  5. Elton, Edwin J. & Gruber, Martin J. & Blake, Christopher R. & Krasny, Yoel & Ozelge, Sadi O., 2010. "The effect of holdings data frequency on conclusions about mutual fund behavior," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 912-922, May.
  6. Larrymore, Norris L. & Rodriguez, Javier, 2007. "Active fund management: Global asset allocation funds," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 244-256, July.
  7. Seung Hee Choi & Maneesh Chhabria, 2012. "Effective delays in portfolio disclosure," Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 20(2), pages 196-211, May.
  8. Shive, Sophie & Yun, Hayong, 2013. "Are mutual funds sitting ducks?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(1), pages 220-237.
  9. Agarwal, Vikas & Gay, Gerald D. & Ling, Leng, 2014. "Window dressing in mutual funds," CFR Working Papers 11-07 [rev.3], University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  10. Marcin Kacperczyk & Clemens Sialm & Lu Zheng, 2005. "On the Industry Concentration of Actively Managed Equity Mutual Funds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(4), pages 1983-2011, 08.
  11. Agarwal, Vikas & Gay, Gerald D. & Ling, Leng, 2011. "Window dressing in mutual funds," CFR Working Papers 11-07, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  12. Agarwal, Vikas & Jiang, Wei & Tang, Yuehua & Yang, Baozhong, 2011. "Uncovering hedge fund skill from the portfolio holdings they hide," CFR Working Papers 10-09 [rev.], University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  13. Agarwal, Vikas & Boyson, Nicole M. & Naik, Narayan Y., 2007. "Hedge funds for retail investors? An examination of hedged mutual funds," CFR Working Papers 07-04, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  14. Marcin Kacperczyk & Clemens Sialm & Lu Zheng, 2008. "Unobserved Actions of Mutual Funds," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(6), pages 2379-2416, November.
  15. Agarwal, Vikas & Mullally, Kevin Andrew & Tang, Yuehua & Yang, Baozhong, 2014. "Mandatory portfolio disclosure, stock liquidity, and mutual fund performance," CFR Working Papers 13-04 [rev.], University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  16. Verbeek, Marno & Wang, Yu, 2013. "Better than the original? The relative success of copycat funds," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 3454-3471.
  17. Hunter, David & Kandel, Eugene & Kandel, Shmuel & Wermers, Russ, 2009. "Endogenous benchmarks," CFR Working Papers 10-02, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  18. Herrmann, Ulf & Scholz, Hendrik, 2013. "Short-term persistence in hybrid mutual fund performance: The role of style-shifting abilities," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2314-2328.
  19. Wermers, Russ & Yao, Tong & Zhao, Jane, 2007. "The investment value of mutual fund portfolio disclosure," CFR Working Papers 06-09, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  20. Agarwal, Vikas & Jiang, Wei & Tang, Yuehua & Yang, Baozhong, 2010. "Uncovering hedge fund skill from the portfolio holdings they hide," CFR Working Papers 10-09, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  21. Zhen Shi, 2011. "The Impact of Portfolio Disclosure on Hedge Fund Performance, Fees and Flows," NFI Working Papers 2011-WP-07, Indiana State University, Scott College of Business, Networks Financial Institute.
  22. Agarwal, Vikas & Gay, Gerald D. & Ling, Leng, 2012. "Performance inconsistency in mutual funds: An investigation of window-dressing behavior," CFR Working Papers 11-07 [rev.], University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).

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