How skilled are asset managers? In 1997, Mark Carhart published his seminal paper on the performance of mutual funds, which concluded that the data did “not support the existence of skilled or informed mutual fund portfolio managers”.
This skepticism with regard to the added value of active management seems to have become the consensus in the academic literature and also among investors. This new paper1 examines the validity of this view by reviewing the literature on mutual fund performance over the last 20 years.
The authors conclude that the conventional wisdom judges active management too negatively, as there is, in fact, a lot of evidence for skill and value added from active management – also after accounting for the impact of fees and costs. Their arguments are backed by references to over 300 papers on this topic.
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