Rolling toward the one fund you can trust

By David Snowball

The knock on mutual fund performance numbers is that they’re static and arbitrary snapshots that give the illusion of being meaningful. What do you learn from looking at a fund’s five-year performance number? Mostly, you learn that the fund, through skill or luck, did well in the market conditions that obtained between December 2012 and December 2017. Sadly, we don’t have any reason to think those two dates are particularly important (why December 2012? ‘cause it was five years ago, duh!) and we don’t have any Continue reading →

Conflicts and Contradictions

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts.”

        Winston S. Churchill

Some time ago, I was surprised by a conversation with my colleague Charles, finding him quite incensed about a visit he had made to a money manager, one of a series of such encounters that began at the Morningstar conference this year. It appears to have been a disconcerting discovery to Charles that the firm in question, rather than lowering their fees, which fell somewhat on the high side, preferred to keep the fees high so as to support the high life. Charles would define the high life as expensive office space in the high-rent district, along with a propensity for displays of Continue reading →

Shukran jazīlan! Trugarez! Xièxie! Go raibh maith agaibh! E molte grazie!

By David Snowball

Likewise merci, danke and, more than all, thanks!

On December 17th, I wrote a note to the 7,000 or so folks on our mailing list. The sad part of the note was reminding folks of the end of our associate’s relationship with Amazon which had so long provided our ability to cover our “hard” bills such as webhosting and email. The glad part was announcing a challenge gift of $2000, offered by three MFO readers who wanted to do the best they could to support us. Their offer was straightforward: we’ll put in a dollar of our own money for every Continue reading →

Funds in registration

By David Snowball

Fund advisers are required to file prospectuses for proposed funds with the SEC; the SEC has 75 days to review the filing. If the SEC doesn’t object, then the adviser is free to launch – or to not launch, which is more common than you think – the proposed fund. Funds placed in registration in December will “go live” in February or March 2018. This month’s filings include three actively-managed ETFs, two conversions of existing funds and one Continue reading →

Manager changes, December 2017

By Chip

Sixty funds saw complete or partial manager changes, which is right in line with our long-term average. Most months see between 50-70 changes. Just as was the case in September, the most consequential changes are coming from the Third Avenue funds. Michael Winer, manager of Third Avenue Real Estate Value and the firm’s sole remaining star, is retiring after 20 years. His co-managers will need to step up. Just a bit later, the merger of Third Avenue International Value will Continue reading →

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball


In December’s story, “There’s no idea so dumb that it won’t attract a dozen ETFs,” I derided the notion of blockchain ETFs. That’s because they have so few meaningful investments; there just aren’t many publicly traded blockchain-focused firms to build a portfolio around. I described their investment universe as “a small, motley collection of firms that recently changed their names to blockchainify them (360 Capital Financial suddenly became 360 Blockchain), over-the-counter stocks, foreign small caps and recent IPOs.”

Shortly thereafter, Long Island Iced Tea Corporation – literally, guys who make Continue reading →