Risk Shifting and Mutual Fund Performance
49 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2009 Last revised: 22 Sep 2010
Date Written: April 2009
Mutual funds change their risk levels significantly over time. This paper investigates the performance consequences of risk shifting, as well as the economic motivations and the mechanisms of risk shifting. Using a holdings-based measure of risk shifting, we find that funds that increase risk perform worse than funds that keep stable risk levels over time. In addition, funds that expect higher benefits from risk shifting are more likely to increase risk and perform particularly poorly after increasing risk. Our results are consistent with the notion that agency problems, rather than the ability to take advantage of changing investment opportunities, are the likely motivation behind risk shifting behavior.
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