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Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives

  • Judith A. Chevalier
  • Glenn D. Ellison

This paper examines the agency conflict between mutual fund investors and mutual fund companies. Investors would like the fund company to use its judgement to maximize risk-adjusted fund returns. A fund company, however, in its desire to maximize its value as a concern has an incentive to take actions which increase the inflow of investment. We use a semiparametric model to estimate the shape of the flow-performance relationship for a sample of growth and growth and income funds observed over the 1982-1992 period. The shape of the flow-performance relationship creates incentives for fund managers to increase or decrease the riskiness of the fund which are dependent on the fund's year-to-date return. Using a new dataset of mutual fund portfolios which includes equity portfolio holdings for September and December of the same year, we show that mutual funds do alter their portfolio riskiness between September and December in a manner consistent with these risk incentives.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5234.

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Date of creation: Aug 1995
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Publication status: published as Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 105, no.6 (1997): 1167-1200.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5234
Note: CF IO
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  1. Zwiebel, Jeffrey, 1995. "Corporate Conservatism and Relative Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 1-25, February.
  2. Borenstein, Severin & Zimmerman, Martin B, 1988. "Market Incentives for Safe Commercial Airline Operation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 913-35, December.
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  6. Mark Grinblatt & Sheridan Titman, . "Portfolio Performance Evaluation: Old Issues and New Insights," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 22-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  7. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-28, March.
  8. Goetzmann, William N & Peles, Nadav, 1997. "Cognitive Dissonance and Mutual Fund Investors," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 20(2), pages 145-58, Summer.
  9. Grinblatt, Mark & Titman, Sheridan D, 1989. "Mutual Fund Performance: An Analysis of Quarterly Portfolio Holdings," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(3), pages 393-416, July.
  10. Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 1998. "A Simple Framework for Nonparametric Specification Testing," NBER Technical Working Papers 0234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Scharfstein, David S & Stein, Jeremy C, 1990. "Herd Behavior and Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 465-79, June.
  12. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1990. "The incentive effects of tournaments revisited: Evidence from the European PGA tour," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 74-88, February.
  13. Healy, Paul M., 1985. "The effect of bonus schemes on accounting decisions," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-3), pages 85-107, April.
  14. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Bognanno, Michael L, 1990. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1307-24, December.
  15. Ippolito, Richard A, 1992. "Consumer Reaction to Measures of Poor Quality: Evidence from the Mutual Fund Industry," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 45-70, April.
  16. Grinblatt, Mark & Titman, Sheridan & Wermers, Russ, 1995. "Momentum Investment Strategies, Portfolio Performance, and Herding: A Study of Mutual Fund Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1088-1105, December.
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