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Should Investors Avoid All Actively Managed Mutual Funds? A Study in Bayesian Performance Evaluation

  • Klaas Baks
  • Andrew Metrick
  • Jessica Wachter

This paper analyzes mutual-fund performance from an investor's perspective. We study the portfolio-choice problem for a mean-variance investor choosing among a risk-free asset, index funds, and actively managed mutual funds. To solve this problem, we employ a Bayesian method of performance evaluation; a key innovation in our approach is the development of a flexible set of prior beliefs about managerial skill. We then apply our methodology to a sample of 1,437 mutual funds. We find that some extremely skeptical prior beliefs nevertheless lead to economically significant allocations to active managers. Copyright The American Finance Association 2001.

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Paper provided by Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research in its series Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers with number 18-99.

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Handle: RePEc:fth:pennfi:18-99
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  1. Kandel, Shmuel & Stambaugh, Robert F, 1996. " On the Predictability of Stock Returns: An Asset-Allocation Perspective," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(2), pages 385-424, June.
  2. Fama, Eugene F, 1970. "Efficient Capital Markets: A Review of Theory and Empirical Work," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 25(2), pages 383-417, May.
  3. Philippe Jorion & William N. Goetzmann, 1998. "Re-Emerging Markets," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm111, Yale School of Management.
  4. Brown, Stephen J & Goetzmann, William N, 1995. " Performance Persistence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(2), pages 679-98, June.
  5. Elton, Edwin J & Gruber, Martin J & Blake, Christopher R, 1996. "The Persistence of Risk-Adjusted Mutual Fund Performance," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69(2), pages 133-57, April.
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  8. Frost, Peter A. & Savarino, James E., 1986. "An Empirical Bayes Approach to Efficient Portfolio Selection," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(03), pages 293-305, September.
  9. Josef Lakonishok & Robert W. Vishny & Andrei Shleifer, 1993. "Contrarian Investment, Extrapolation, and Risk," NBER Working Papers 4360, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lubos Pastor & Robert F. Stambaugh, 1999. "Comparing Asset Pricing Models: An Investment Perspective," NBER Working Papers 7284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Keim, Donald B. & Madhavan, Ananth, 1997. "Transactions costs and investment style: an inter-exchange analysis of institutional equity trades," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 265-292, December.
  12. Kandel, S. & McCulloch, R. & Stambaugh, R.F., 1991. "Bayesian Inference and Portfolio Efficiency," Weiss Center Working Papers 8-91, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
  13. repec:fth:pennfi:72 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Lakonishok, Joseph & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1992. "The Structure and Performance of the Money Management Industry," Scholarly Articles 10498059, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Stambaugh, Robert F., 1997. "Analyzing investments whose histories differ in length," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 285-331, September.
  16. Jorion, Philippe, 1985. "International Portfolio Diversification with Estimation Risk," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(3), pages 259-78, July.
  17. Bruce N. Lehmann & David M. Modest, 1985. "Mutual Fund Performance Evaluation: A Comparison of Benchmarks and Benchmark Comparisons," NBER Working Papers 1721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Judith Chevalier & Glenn Ellison, 1999. "Are Some Mutual Fund Managers Better Than Others? Cross-Sectional Patterns in Behavior and Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(3), pages 875-899, 06.
  19. Carlson, Robert S., 1970. "Aggregate Performance of Mutual Funds, 1948–1967," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(01), pages 1-32, March.
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  23. Klaas Baks & Andrew Metrick & Jessica Wachter, 1999. "Bayesian Performance Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 7069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Brown, Stephen J, et al, 1992. "Survivorship Bias in Performance Studies," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(4), pages 553-80.
  25. Jorion, Philippe, 1991. "Bayesian and CAPM estimators of the means: Implications for portfolio selection," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 717-727, June.
  26. Ferson, Wayne E & Schadt, Rudi W, 1996. " Measuring Fund Strategy and Performance in Changing Economic Conditions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(2), pages 425-61, June.
  27. Lubos Pastor & Robert F. Stambaugh, 1998. "Costs of Equity Capital and Model Mispricing," NBER Working Papers 6490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Lehmann, Bruce N & Modest, David M, 1987. " Mutual Fund Performance Evaluation: A Comparison of Benchmarks and Benchmark Comparisons," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 42(2), pages 233-65, June.
  29. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
  30. Carhart, Mark M, 1997. " On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 57-82, March.
  31. Shanken, Jay, 1987. "A Bayesian approach to testing portfolio efficiency," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 195-215, December.
  32. Klein, Roger W. & Bawa, Vijay S., 1976. "The effect of estimation risk on optimal portfolio choice," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 215-231, June.
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