The Party Structure of Mutual Funds
69 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2018 Last revised: 10 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 14, 2018
We investigate the structure of mutual funds' corporate governance preferences as revealed by how they vote their shares in portfolio companies. We apply standard unsupervised learning tools from the machine learning literature to analyze a comprehensive dataset of mutual funds' votes and find that a parsimonious two-dimensional model can explain the bulk of mutual fund voting. The two dimensions represent competing visions of shareholder rights and modes of shareholder engagement with management. Model-based cluster analysis shows that mutual funds are organized into three 'parties' --- the Traditional Governance Party, the Shareholder Intervention Party, and the Shareholder Veto Party --- that follow distinctive philosophies of corporate governance and shareholders' role. Our preference measures for mutual funds generate a range of insights about the broader system of corporate governance.
Keywords: mutual funds, proxy voting, spatial models, corporate governance
JEL Classification: G30, G23
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