Empire of the Fund: The Way We Save Now

Empire of the Fund: The Way We Save Now

by William A. Birdthistle

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Overview

Empire of the Fund is an exposé and examination of the way we save now. With the rise of the 401(k) and demise of the pension, the United States has embarked upon the richest and riskiest experiment in our financial history. Over the next twenty years, nearly eighty million baby boomers will retire at a pace of ten thousand per day. The hypothesis of our experiment is that millions of ordinary, untrained, busy citizens can successfully manage trillions of dollars in a financial system dominated by wealthy, skilled, and powerful financial institutions, many of which have a record of treating individual investors shabbily.

The key tools in our 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts are mutual funds, which have ballooned to hold more than $16 trillion. But these funds pose dangers to our savings in three ways: through structural vulnerabilities that give money managers the incentive to focus on marketing over investing; through the very human challenges of managing our savings decades into the future; and through the peril of financial professionals behaving badly, to our economic harm.

Though Americans often hear of the importance of low fees in fund investing, few are aware of the astonishing panoply of ways that some financial advisers have illegally diverted money out of mutual funds: from abetting hedge funds to trade after the legal deadline, to inflating the assets on which they are paid a percentage, to paying kickbacks for brokers to sell their funds. This book will forewarn and forearm Americans by illustrating the structural flaws, perverse incentives, and litany of scandals that have bedeviled mutual funds.

And by setting forth a pair of policy solutions to improve Americans' financial literacy and bargaining power, it will also attempt to safeguard our individual financial destinies and our nation's fiscal strength.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199398560
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 06/29/2016
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

William Birdthistle is a Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he specializes in investment funds and corporate law. Previously, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and practiced law at Ropes & Gray LLP. Birdthistle was born in Cork, Ireland and raised in Libya and Malaysia. He came the United States to attend Duke University and Harvard Law School, where he served as managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Birdthistle lives in Chicago with his wife and children.

Table of Contents

Part I - Anatomy of a Fund
1. Purpose
2. Structure
3. Economics

Part II - Diseases & Disorders
4. Fees
5. Soft Dollars
6. Fair Valuation
7. Late Trading
8. Market Timing
9. Selective Disclosure

Part III - Alternative Remedies
10. Retirement Accounts
11. Target Date Funds
12. Exchange-Traded Funds & Alts
13. Money Market Funds

Part IV - Cures
14. A Healthier Use of Mutual Funds

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