German Open Ended Funds: Was there a Valuation Problem?
In late 2005, a number of German open ended funds suffered significant withdrawals by unit holders. The crisis was precipitated by a long term bear market in German property investment and the fact that these funds offered short term liquidity to unit holders but had low levels of liquidity in the fund. A more controversial suggestion was that the crisis was exacerbated by a perception that the valuations of the fund were too infrequent and inaccurate. As units are priced by reference to these valuations with no secondary market, the valuation process is central to the process. There is no direct evidence that these funds were over-valued but there is circumstantial evidence and this paper examines the indirect evidence of the process to see whether the hypothesis that valuation is an issue for the German funds holds any credibility. It also discusses whether there is a wider issue for other funds of this nature or whether it is a parochial problem confined to Germany. The conclusions are that there is reason to believe that German valuation processes make over-valuation in a recession more likely than in other countries and that more direct research into the German valuation system is required to identify the issues which need to be addressed to make the valuation system more trusted.
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