Search results for luck vs skill
Essays
By Eugene F. Fama and Kenneth R. French Our paper, "Luck versus Skill in the Cross Section of Mutual Fund Returns," examines the performance during 1984-2006 of actively managed US mutual funds that invest primarily in US equities.  It is an academic paper with lots of technical detail.  The purpose of this white paper is to provide a summary of the results that are relevant for investors.  We begin by examining the overall α for aggregate wealth invested in actively managed mutual funds.  We then turn to the performance of individual funds. (Read the full entry) 
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EFF: In an interview with Client Insights host Dan Richards, I explain the key findings of the paper "Luck vs. Skill in Mutual Fund Performance" that Ken French and I published in 2010. Looking at funds over their entire lifetimes, only 3% demonstrate skill after accounting for their fees, and that's what you would expect purely based on chance. Even the active funds that have generated extraordinary returns are unlikely to do better than a low-cost passive fund in the future. 
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EFF/KRF: Our new paper, Luck versus Skill in the Cross Section of Mutual Fund Alpha Estimates, takes another look at the performance of mutual funds. Bootstrap simulations produce no evidence that any managers have enough skill to cover the costs they impose on investors. If there are managers with sufficient skill to cover costs, they are hidden among the mass of managers with insufficient skill. 
Q&A
Should investors expect higher returns from private equity investments as compensation for the lack of liquidity? Does private equity offer a useful diversification benefit in a balanced portfolio? (Read the full entry) 
Videos
Although it would be great if we could all hire above average active managers, that only happens in Lake Wobegon. Superior managers may exist, but most investors might as well be picking their managers at random. I describe the challenge of differentiating luck from skill, and explain how intense competition among investors makes the problem even more difficult. 
Q&A
If you are familiar with a recent survey of mutual fund performance by Fundquest (Jane Li, "When Active Management Shines vs. Passive," June 2010), your comments would be appreciated. (Read the full entry) 
Q&A
EFF/KRF: Unfortunately, daily returns don’t provide more information. (Read the full entry) 
Q&A
Recently, I've heard some say "I got out of the market in May 2008 and I am sure glad I did." Given the obviously positive results of this decision, what is the best argument to convince people that buy and hold is better than timing the market? EFF: Wins and losses from market timing bets are both just unpredictable chance outcomes, and good luck is, of course, better than bad luck. The problem with market timing is that you may be out of the market in periods of strong returns. KRF: There is a large academic literature on whether market returns are predictable. The general conclusion is that it is impossible to predict the market return with any confidence... "A Comprehensive Look at the Empirical Performance of Equity Premium Prediction," by Amit Goyal and Ivo Welch (Review of Financial Studies, 2008), is a good summary of the evidence. (Read the full entry) 
Q&A
Long-term government bonds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 0.12% per year for the forty-year period ending March 2009. Does a negative risk premium for stocks vs. bonds over such a long period challenge conventional thinking about risk and return? EFF/KRF: It is important to distinguish between the expected equity premium, which should be positive, and the realized premium, which is the expected premium plus the unexpected premium. Investing in stocks is risky because we do not know what the unexpected premium will be.  (Read the full entry) 
Q&A
George Soros claims (in his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal) that the Efficient Market Hypothesis is invalid, because prices in financial markets "always provide a biased view of the future, and that distortions of prices in financial markets may affect the underlying reality." Thoughts? EFF: All the evidence I know says that market predictions are unbiased. It's understandable, however, that hedge fund managers are immune to this evidence since it's a threat to their existence. (Read the full entry) 
Essays
By Eugene F. Fama  Foreword I was invited by the editors to contribute a professional autobiography for the Annual Review of Financial Economics.  I focus on what I think is my best stuff.  Readers interested in the rest can download my vita from the website of the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business.  I only briefly discuss ideas and their origins, to give the flavor of context and motivation.  I do not attempt to review the contributions of others, which is likely to raise feathers.  Mea culpa in advance. Professor Fama was invited by the editors of the Annual Review of Financial Economics to contribute a professional autobiography. In this essay, he highlights some of the key ideas and their origins that mark his distinguished career to give the flavor of context and motivation.  (Read the full entry) 
ABOUT FAMA AND FRENCH
Eugene F. Fama
The Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Kenneth R. French
The Roth Family Distinguished Professor of Finance at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College
This information is distributed for educational purposes and should not be considered investment advice or an offer of any security for sale. This article contains the opinions of the author but not necessarily Dimensional Fund Advisors and does not represent a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Dimensional Fund Advisors is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. Past performance is not indicative of future results and no representation is made that the stated results will be replicated.

Eugene Fama and Ken French are members of the Board of Directors for and provide consulting services to Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.