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The index fund rationality paradox

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  • Boldin, Michael
  • Cici, Gjergji

Abstract

Mutual funds that track the S&P 500 are popular because they have significantly lower costs than the average, actively managed equity fund. However, a measurable number of investors select index funds with excessive fees and uncompetitive returns. We call this observation the Index Fund Rationality Paradox because it conflicts with the belief that index fund investors are making a rational, low-cost choice in their 'type of fund' decision. In our analysis of this paradox, we find that both retail and institutional index investors tended to make better choices in recent years, but the cost of poor choices among both groups continues to be significant. In fact, we are able to identify an arguably naïve group of retail investors that seem to be unduly influenced by brokers and financial advisors. These investors are largely responsible for the remaining paradox.

Suggested Citation

  • Boldin, Michael & Cici, Gjergji, 2010. "The index fund rationality paradox," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 33-43, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:34:y:2010:i:1:p:33-43
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jbfina:v:88:y:2018:i:c:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:oup:revfin:v:21:y:2017:i:3:p:1217-1250. is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Cici, Gjergji & Dahm, Laura K. & Kempf, Alexander, 2014. "Trading efficiency of fund families: Impact on fund performance and investment behavior," CFR Working Papers 14-14, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
    4. Adams, John C. & Mansi, Sattar A. & Nishikawa, Takeshi, 2012. "Are mutual fund fees excessive?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 2245-2259.
    5. Cici, Gjergji, 2011. "The relation of the disposition effect to mutual fund trades and performance," CFR Working Papers 11-05, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
    6. Klaus Grobys, 2012. "Active PortofolioManagement in the Presence of Regime Switching: What Are the Benefits of Defensive Asset Allocation Strategies If the Investor Faces Bear Markets?," The Review of Finance and Banking, Academia de Studii Economice din Bucuresti, Romania / Facultatea de Finante, Asigurari, Banci si Burse de Valori / Catedra de Finante, vol. 4(1), pages 015-031, June.

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