A safe haven for intelligent investors


Return to Questions By Topic
Your Question

How can I find a mutual fund I can trust?
With fund companies paying billions of dollars in fines for fraud, these links will help you choose an honest partner.

Jason's Answers

The Watchdog That Didn`t Bark
10/01/2004: Money Magazine
Ever since 2003 -- when New York State attorney general Eliot Spitzer exposed chronic corruption in the mutual fund business -- legislators, regulators and the media have been spewing out plans to fix the way funds are run. Is there a better way?

Mutual funds: What will it take to restore investor confidence?
04/01/2004: AIMR (CFA Institute) webcast
Jason moderated this panel discussion with Don Phillips of Morningstar, John Markese of the American Association of Individual Investors, John Gavin of SEC Insight, and Michael Murray of Kestrel Consulting.

The Vanguard chronicles
04/23/2004: Money Magazine
Red-hot growth is testing the quirky, quasi-religious culture of this mutual-fund icon.

The good, the bad and the ugly
02/09/2004: Money Magazine
Which fund companies put investors first? Find out in Money`s exclusive survey. By Jason Zweig with Adrienne Carter and Cybele Weisser, MONEY magazine

Land of the Rising Stocks
12/01/2003: TIME Magazine
Japan`s equity market has stopped inflicting pain. Is it now ripe for a significant gain?

Putnam: The greed machine
12/21/2003: Money Magazine
The problem is not just scandalous trading. It`s putting profits first and investors last. By Adrienne Carter, Amy Feldman and Jason Zweig, Money magazine

How To Protect Your Money
11/01/2003: TIME Magazine
What to do with mutual funds that may be affected by the trading scandal.

Funds under fire
An interview on KPCC talk radio (Pasadena, CA) on how investors should react to the mutual-fund scandal.

Is Your Fund Too Dirty to Hold?
What should you do if you own a mutual fund being investigated in the trading scandal? An interview with Public Radio’s Bob Moon, which you can listen to here:

Funds you can trust
11/23/2003: Money Magazine
Amid the ongoing scandals in the fund industry, there are things you can do to avoid getting burned.

The Great Fund Rip-Off
10/01/2003: Money Magazine
The charges by Eliot Spitzer of special deals and fast trading are just the beginning. As the scandal widens, how can you keep your money safe?

ABCs of Fund Fees
09/01/2003: TIME Magazine
Investors face an alphabet soup of shares. Here\'s how to sort them out.

Get Rich Slowly
07/01/2003: TIME Magazine (book excerpt)
The Intelligent Investor (1949), by financial giant Benjamin Graham, is more relevant than ever, in a new edition updated with analysis by Jason Zweig.

What Would Jesus Buy?
05/01/2003: TIME Magazine
Can an investor become more righteous, and richer, by avoiding \"unholy\" stocks?

Momentum Mori
05/01/2003: Money Magazine, Vol. 32 No. 5
What should we make of Garrett Van Wagoner?

Time-Zone Traders
11/01/2002: Money Magazine, Vol. 31 No. 12
Some folks are gaming discrepancies in mutual fund pricing, much to the detriment of fundholders.

How Should I Invest Now?
09/01/2002: Money Magazine, Vol. 31 No. 9
How do I pick a fund?

What Fund Investors Really Need To Know
06/01/2002: Money Magazine, Vol. 31 No. 6 Special Double Issue/Invest To Win
Our Exclusive Study Of Mutual Fund Returns Shows Which Ones Really Made Money For Investors And Which Ones Took Shareholders For A Costly Ride

Inside the world\'s largest fund
In control of $80 billion, Magellan manager Bob Stansky wants to beat the market -- but he\'s no gunslinger.

Online chat at Morningstar.com
03/01/2002: www.morningstar.com
Among other things, Jason discusses investment risk, diversification, index funds, market timing, and how the mutual fund industry should get its act together. (Note: free registration required.)

The Future Of Fidelity
02/01/2002: Money Magazine, Vol. 31 No. 2 Special Funds Issue
With $873 Billion In Assets, Fidelity Is Already The Colossus Of The Mutual Fund Business. But Its Ambitions Don't Stop There.

Here Come the Bogleheads
09/01/2001: Money Magazine, Vol. 30 No. 9
On A Sunny Summer Weekend, Dozens Of Strangers Gather To Hear Jack Bogle Preach Vanguard\'s Investing Gospel. Don\'t They Have Anything Better To Do?

Wall Street\'s Wisest Man
06/01/2001: Money Magazine, Vol. 30 No. 6
Getting rich off stocks is simple, says Charles Ellis. Here\'s how.

Will The Janus Way Go Astray?
01/01/2001: FORTUNE Magazine
MONEY magazine's mutual fund columnist Jason Zweig gets under the hood of Janus' magical money machine.

Investing on PBS
01/01/2001: PBS
A chat with Betsy Karetnick of PBS’s “That Money Show” about what went wrong for investors in 2000 and how to put those lessons to work. View the video here:

If Your Clients Know as Much as You Do, How Can You Keep Them?
In this speech, Jason warned that money managers needed to build an emotional bond with their investors before it was too late. All too many fund companies rely on hot performance and marketing gimmicks, instead of building trust by managing risk and investing for the long term. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems a shame that more people in the fund industry didn’t take this speech (to the Association for Investment Management & Research) more seriously.

Mutual Funds
11/01/2000: PBS
An interview with Betsy Karetnick of PBS’s “That Money Show” on the basics of investing in mutual funds. View the video here:

Don\'t Fly Blind
10/01/2000: Money Magazine, Vol. 29 No. 10
How to find out what your fund company isn\'t telling you

Mutual Competition
08/01/2000: Money Magazine, Vol. 29 No. 8
Are the new rivals to traditional funds – like folios and exchange traded funds (ETFs) -- a better bet?

Performance Review: Part 1
07/18/2000: money.com
I've been answering your questions in Mutual Fund Mailbag for just about a year now, and I think I've gotten things mostly right. Just to be sure, though, I've asked some of the investing world's top minds for their two cents. In this three-part series, I square off with Vanguard's John Bogle, efficient-market theorist William Bernstein, and finance professor Terrance Odean on the issues you've written in most about. This week: Bogle beats me up.

Don\'t Get Me Wrong
07/01/2000: Money Magazine, Vol. 29 No. 7
When should a fund manager--or an investor--admit a mistake?

Index funds
06/01/2000: IndexFunds.com
Should you have all your money in index funds? Jason debates the editor of IndexFunds.com on whether actively-managed mutual funds serve any legitimate purpose at all:

Investing for retirement and income
06/06/2000: CNN
In this appearance on CNN’s “In the Money,” Jason recommends some mutual funds and strategies to improve retirement security.

The first step
05/18/2000: money.com
Good investing isn't rocket science. Here's a plan to get you started that can last a lifetime.

Prodigal son
05/08/2000: money.com
Many investors have strayed in search of tech-sized returns, but repentant sinners can get back on the true path. (See also August 1, 2000.)

Investing internationally
05/01/2000: CNN
In this appearance on CNN’s “In the Money,” Jason discusses using mutual funds to invest overseas with safety.

Fun funds
04/28/2000: money.com
Mutual funds marketed to children aren't bad, but there are better ways to turn on your kids to investing.

Alphabet soup
04/18/2000: money.com
B shares, C shares--even Q shares. Which class of fund should you buy?

Chart Burn
04/01/2000: Money Magazine, Vol. 29 No. 4
The \"mountain charts\" in fund ads can be confusing.

Do health-care funds make sense?
03/10/2000: money.com
Depends who you ask--but if it's a financial journalist, think twice.

Questioning your faith
03/02/2000: money.com
Should you abandon those once-great value funds?

The Star System
03/02/2000: Money Magazine, Vol. 29 No. 3
Are you sure you know what those Morningstar ratings really mean?

02/11/2000: money.com
Are two nickels ever worth 12 cents? You can play that game with stocks, but not with funds.

Dumbed down too far
01/18/2000: money.com
Lifecycle funds offer instant diversification, but they have their drawbacks.

Carrying the load
12/21/1999: money.com
Jason cuts through some financial jargon and gives the straight dope on mutual fund charges.

The Tyranny of Style
12/01/1999: Money Magazine Vol. 28 No. 12 Special Double Issue
Is a mutual fund's label more important than its returns?

How much turnover is too much?
11/24/1999: money.com
Jason gives readers an easy way to evaluate fund portfolio turnover, and sheds some light on mutual fund share splits. (See also July 18, 2000.)

Is a green fund a good fund?
11/11/1999: money.com
Jason weighs in on the merits of socially-responsible mutual funds.

Looking Out for No. 1
11/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 11
With fund returns, what you see is not always what you will get.

Behavioral Finance: What Good Is It, Anyway?
10/01/1999: Harvard University
Behavioral finance – the study of investing psychology – is getting tons of attention. The trendiest money managers all say they use behavioral finance to exploit the mistakes of irrational investors. In this speech to a conference at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Jason argues that behavioral finance is not a window onto the behavior of other people, but a mirror that shows our own shortcomings; we should use it not to take advantage of other stupid investors, but rather to make ourselves smarter investors.

Required reading
10/14/1999: money.com
Jason recommends a shelf-full of good books for the novice investor.

All dressed up and no place to invest
10/07/1999: money.com
Jason advises a reader who's managed to save a lot of money, but doesn't know where to invest it.

Bogle: Going But Not Forgotten
10/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 10
No one would have expected John C. Bogle, iconoclastic founder of Vanguard funds, to go gentle into that good night. And he didn\'t. When top executives at Vanguard began pushing their feisty senior...

Which one of these funds is not like the others?
09/24/1999: money.com
Jason answers a reader who wants to know about tools to evaluate how much overlap there is in his funds' holdings.

How many funds are enough?
09/17/1999: money.com
Jason explains why most investors shouldn't own more than a handful of mutual funds.

Fund Wars
09/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 9
A secret battle is raging between fund companies and financial planners--and you may be caught in the crossfire. (The first major article to point out that the fund industry was being infiltrated by fast-trading market timers who could hurt small investors.) Pat Regnier and Jason Zweig

“Expert Q&A”
08/01/1999: morningstar.com
In this online chat, Jason fields questions from Morningstar users about everything from stock-picking “systems” to index funds, how and why to use a broker, investing in corporate bankruptcies, saving for college, the fine points of bond funds, and the ethics of financial journalism. [Conversation 676: in the “Jump to #” box, enter 676]

Mutual Fund Tax Bombs
07/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 7
How to run up a $10,000 tax bill without even trying

Don\'t Sell Value Short
06/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 6 Special Issue The MONEY 100
How would you like to be a highly intelligent, experienced, skilled professional--and come in to work every day and have somebody tell you that you\'re a moron?

Risks and Riches
04/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 4
Over the full sweep of time, mutual funds have shown that they are probably the greatest contribution to financial democracy ever devised. But like every democratic structure, they are far from perfect.

Look Back and Learn
04/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 4
Booms And Busts, Fashions And Binges, Have Been Part Of The Mutual Fund Experience Almost Since The Beginning.

Mutual Bet: Beating the Odds?
10/01/1997: PBS
In this interview for PBS’s The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Jason discusses the chronic underperformance of mutual funds: what causes it and what investors can do about it. Transcript available here:

Putting Investors First
What should matter more to mutual funds: investment results or marketing success? In this speech -- to a group of fund executives at a dinner held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Investment Company Institute – Jason warned that the fund industry was heading for disaster by trying to serve both masters. The speech infuriated the audience; several attendees stood up at the end and yelled that Jason had insulted their integrity. The trading scandal exposed in 2003 suggests that Jason’s doubts about their integrity were valid.

Why you should watch out for those sizzling funds that shout: “We’re No. 1!”
03/01/1996: Money Magazine
How good is a fund? It depends mainly on when you start measuring its returns and when you stop.

Why Do Mutual Funds Cost So Much?
06/01/1995: Morningstar Investment Conference
In this speech, Jason told the history of rising expenses over the years and reviewed – then dismantled – the fund industry’s justifications for the ever-higher flood of costs. If you want to learn more about how high fund expenses are, how they got there, and what to do about them, you may find that this speech (given while Jason was the mutual funds editor at Forbes) remains a useful resource.

Why You Should Not Take Personal Trading by Fund Managers Too Personally
11/01/1995: Money Magazine
A look at the furor over fund managers who bought or sold the same stocks for their own accounts that they also picked in their mutual funds. (Note: This is one of the dumber articles I\'ve written.)

The SEC Looks at Whether Vinik Broke the Rules
01/01/1996: Money Magazine
A report on personal trading by Jeff Vinik, then the manager of Fidelity Magellan fund.

The Hottest Funds Are Too Big for Their Britches
04/01/1996: Money Magazine
Ballooning mutual funds are great for the folks who run them, but they may be a bust for you. This article is an early look at the problem of how bigger funds produce smaller returns.

A Fund Fee Shareholders Should Be Glad to See
04/01/1996: Money Magazine
Why redemption fees are a good idea for long-term investors.

How to Win with the New Fidelity Lineup
05/01/1996: Money Magazine
Fidelity has shaken up its managers to boost performance. What do the changes mean for investors?

Why Socially Responsible Investing Is Not Quite As Heavenly As It Might Sound
06/01/1996: Money Magazine
A column that raised questions about whether mutual funds can really appease your investing conscience.

Why Investors Have No Reason to Fret over the Most Recent Fidelity Flap
06/01/1996: Money Magazine
A short item explaining the significance of news about personal trading by portfolio managers.

How to Find Substitutes for Some Old Favorites
09/01/1996: Money Magazine
A guide to searching for a new place for your money when one fund closes or a manager jumps ship.

Peering into the Past Does Not Tell You the Future of a Fund
10/01/1996: Money Magazine
Why past performance is not an accurate guide to the returns a fund will earn after you buy it.

Oscar Time for Funds: The Envelope, Please
12/01/1996: Money Magazine
Awards for best and worst performance in an industry that is supposed to serve investors.

Your Funds May Be Making You Rich...But You Are Also Getting Robbed
02/01/1997: Money Magazine
An article documenting all the ways fund companies overcharge their investors, and how you can fight back.

The Best Funds for the Future
10/01/1997: Money Magazine
Some thoughts on how to pick funds today with reasonable odds of outperforming tomorrow.

Is That New Fund a Hard-Boiled Survivor -- Or Humpty-Dumpty?
12/01/1997: Money Magazine
How to tell if a newly-hatched mutual fund is naturally good or has been warmed up by incubation.

The 1997 Mutual-Fund Oscars
12/01/1997: Money Magazine
This year\'s picks and pans in the fund business.

How Funds Can Do Better
02/01/1998: Money Magazine
Ten proposals to make mutual funds a better deal for their owners.

Why Your Fund Manager May Work Better in the Dark
03/01/1998: Money Magazine
A column arguing that more frequent disclosure of what a fund owns may not be a good thing.

Stocks or Funds?
04/01/1998: Money Magazine
How to do decide whether (and where) mutual funds or individual stocks will work better for you.

The Best Mutual Fund Family in America
08/01/1998: Money Magazine
What makes the Longleaf Partners funds so different – and why aren’t more fund companies run the same way?

A Plague of Mergers
11/01/1998: Money Magazine
Fund mergers help management, but what about shareholders? How mutual funds could become more truly mutual.

No Dumping
01/01/1999: Money Magazine
Is your underperforming mutual fund manager the problem? Or are you? A look at why most people sell at the wrong time.

What a Mutual Fund Is Worth to You
11/01/2005: Money Magazine
A new measure of fund expenses shows that you may be paying far more than you think.

Ten Lukewarm Funds to Buy Now!
07/01/2005: Money Magazine
New research shows why the hottest funds do not generate the most wealth for investors.

Is Your Fund Pro Finally a Prince?
03/01/2006: Money Magazine
New research claims that the average mutual fund has beaten the market. The research is wrong.

When You Wish Upon a Star
03/01/2007: Money Magazine
A new study says Morningstar`s ratings do indeed predict performance. The reason may surprise you.

Still Scolding After All These Years
04/01/2007: Money Magazine
Vanguard founder Jack Bogle talks about what he has learned about investing and about getting a new lease on life with a heart transplant.

What to Do When Your Fancy ETF Goes RIP
08/02/2008: The Wall Street Journal
The coming wave of closures in the ETF business

How Managing Risk with ETFs Can Backfire
02/28/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Why the hottest investments around -- leveraged ETFs -- are too hot for just about anybody.

Did Your College Savings Plan Blow up on You?
03/21/2009: The Wall Street Journal
How 529 plans delivered just the wrong kind of education to their investors.

Will Leveraged ETFs Put Cracks in the Market Close?
04/18/2009: The Wall Street Journal
A look at whether leveraged ETFs may be responsible for higher market volatility.

Is Your Fund Pawning Shares at Your Expense?
05/30/2009: The Wall Street Journal
A peek into the shadowy world of securities lending.

Is Vanguard Sailing in Uncharted Seas?
06/13/2009: The Wall Street Journal
What was behind the fund company`s bid for the iShares ETFs?

Can the Supreme Court Undress High Fund Fees?
08/15/2009: The Wall Street Journal
A new case offers the chance to improve the way fund boards set expenses.

Should You Buy Municipal Bonds Individually or in a Fund?
02/03/2009: The Wall Street Journal Online
A blog post on how to tell how you should own munis.

Will 12b-1 Fees Ever Stop Bugging Investors?
12/19/2009: The Wall Street Journal
What should the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission do about mutual-fund marketing fees?

Why Fund Managers’ Hot Performance Isn’t So Hot
03/27/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Have markets suddenly gotten easy to beat?

A Fund Fee That Keeps on Taking
07/31/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Can the Securities and Exchange Commission reform 12b-1 marketing fees in mutual funds without making the whole mess even worse?

Why Regulators Can`t Keep `Safe` Bond Funds from Sinking
01/15/2011: The Wall Street Journal
What makes rule violations that are obvious in hindsight so hard to spot in foresight?

These Rookie Regulators Have Got Moxie -- and Not Much Else
03/12/2011: The Wall Street Journal
Could tens of thousands of investment advisers be regulated by a handful of law students in Oxford, Miss.?

Here`s One Way to Beat the Market
06/04/2011: The Wall Street Journal
How some managers, including Jim Cramer, get to say they outperform: by comparing themselves to a benchmark with one hand tied behind its back.

When Funds Lend Stock, Who Gains?
10/22/2011: The Wall Street Journal
Is your mutual fund or ETF getting the most out of its securities-lending operations for you?

Unwitting Angels: When Fund Investors Become Bankers
07/30/2011: The Wall Street Journal
Is your mutual fund suddenly in the business of bailing out bad debtors with your money?

In New Funds, Old Flaws
04/14/2012: The Wall Street Journal
Exchange-traded notes sound like exchange-traded funds, but their fees -- and behavior -- can be nothing alike.

Can `Skin in the Game` Pose Conflicts?
06/02/2012: The Wall Street Journal
A look at BlackRock energy-fund manager Dan Rice and the energy company run by his family.

A Fund Manager`s Home Cooking
06/16/2012: The Wall Street Journal
BlackRock energy-fund manager Dan Rice steps aside after his side businesses come to light.

BlackRock Fund Manager to Leave
06/22/2012: The Wall Street Journal
Energy-fund manager Dan Rice will leave BlackRock, the firm announces.

High Rates? Are You Delirious?
07/14/2012: The Wall Street Journal
A look at the Cornerstone funds, which give investors their own money back and call it `yield.`

Correlation Quackery
10/20/2011: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
The latest lame argument from crybaby stockpickers: They can`t do well when correlations are high.

Fund Data Gone Wild
11/03/2011: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
Sometimes, websites report wildly divergent statistics on what mutual funds hold in their portfolios.

How Practical Is `Tactical`?
11/03/2012: The Wall Street Journal
`Tactical Asset Allocation` funds are being promoted as the cure for market crashes. Look before you leap.

Fund Managers Lift Results With Timely Trading Sprees
12/06/2012: The Wall Street Journal
A Page One analysis of the practice of window-dressing or marking the close, by which portfolio managers drive up stock prices just before the end of a quarter. (With Tom McGinty.)

Fund Firm at Center of Big Game Hunt
03/26/2013: The Wall Street Journal
How Southeastern Asset Management, the money manager trying to break up the deal to take Dell Inc. private, operates.

Other Resources

Efficient Frontier

Link to William J. Bernstein's "Efficient Frontier" online newsletter, where he serves up opinion that is, at one and the same time, both biting and mathematically rigorous, both challenging and fun to read. Full of righteous anger at the knaves and nincompoops who dish out most financial advice, Bernstein is an invigorating breath of fresh air.

Bogle Financial Markets Research Center

This site, featuring John C. Bogle's speeches and research papers, enables you to keep up with the latest thinking of the founder of the Vanguard Group. Jack Bogle is probably the best friend the individual investor has ever had, and the materials archived here are rich with insights into how the money management business really works and how you can take control of your own financial destiny.

Return to Your Questions by Topic

JasonZweig.com is my place to tell you what I think about a whole lot of investing stuff. I’m the only one responsible for my opinions, but I can’t guarantee they’ll always be right. If you don’t like what I say or it turns out to be wrong, I’m sorry; you can’t sue me. The material you find here is not meant as specific investing advice for you, and if you use it that way and something goes wrong, that’s your problem, not mine. To get individualized investing advice, you need to do your own homework or else hire a financial advisor, a tax professional, or a lawyer to do it for you (and even then, you’d better watch like a hawk!). If you think anything on this website is an invitation for you to buy or sell any investment, you need to get your head examined. What’s more, I’m not soliciting business of any kind, because I don’t have any business to solicit. (Believe it or not, I don’t want your money.) I’ll do my best to avoid any conflicts of interest in running this website, but I don’t have silvery wings and a halo, and somebody might manage to corrupt me. If that happens, it’s your job to notice and to be disgusted by it. In short, none of my best efforts to be honest, sensible, and trustworthy exempt you from your constant duties to treat what I say with the same skepticism you should treat anyone’s pontification about investing. I wish you good luck!

Legalese Version