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Empire of the Fund


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Table of Contents

Part I - Anatomy of a Fund 1. Purpose 2. Structure 3. Economics Part II - Diseases & Disorders 4. Fees 5. Soft Dollars 6. Fair Valuation 7. Late Trading 8. Market Timing 9. Selective Disclosure Part III - Alternative Remedies 10. Retirement Accounts 11. Target Date Funds 12. Exchange-Traded Funds & Alts 13. Money Market Funds Part IV - Cures 14. A Healthier Use of Mutual Funds

About the Author

William Birdthistle is a Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he specializes in investment funds and corporate law. Previously, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and practiced law at Ropes & Gray LLP. Birdthistle was born in Cork, Ireland and raised in Libya and Malaysia. He came the United States to attend Duke University and Harvard Law School, where he served as managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Birdthistle lives in Chicago with his wife and children.


"...a cautionary tale about the dangers of misaligned incentives and how the ordinary investor can navigate around them. It thus makes for both required and entertaining reading for the practitioner, the policymaker, and the regulator." -- Financial Analysts Journal "A lively new book critical of our flawed system of saving" -- New York Times "Investors who bear the responsibility of building their own pension pot need to understand the huge impact that charges can have. Reading Mr. Birdthistle's book would be a very good place to start." -- The Economist "A sort of "buyer beware" manual for your nest egg" -- Time, Money "Birdthistle does a masterful job of explaining mutual funds" -- Washington Post "Birdthistle writes for two audiences in this engaging, well-written volume. The majority of the text focuses on the nuts and bolts of mutual funds. By clearly explaining the incentive structure facing mutual fund advisers, especially the incentives that work against individual investors, he gives readers information they can use to better ensure their retirement savings are more secure. The second audience is policy makers, as Birdthistle concludes with several recommendations for mutual fund regulation. His goal is to improve the current state of affairs to ensure that massive bailouts of retirees are not necessary in the future." -- Choice "The mutual fund industry has been the prime beneficiary of the radical change in our nation's retirement system during the past quarter century. But funds are afflicted by diseases and disorders, by faults and foibles, brilliantly catalogued in Empire of the Fund. No investor can afford to ignore the message of this book: educate yourself and gain financial literacy." -- John C. Bogle, Founder of the Vanguard Group "Empire of the Fund is a clear-eyed look at the problems and scandals that have beset the mutual fund industry-the very industry Americans trust to ensure our financial futures. And Birdthistle has a plan for reforming how we save." -- Bethany McLean, author of The Smartest Guys in the Room and All the Devils Are Here "Empire of the Fund is interesting, understandable to the non-professional, and delightful reading. The discussion is laced with humor, anecdotes derived from court cases, and lessons that become obvious. If anyone had doubts that investments can be explained accurately in a non-simplistic way, this book has dispelled these doubts." --Tamar Frankel, Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law "William Birdthistle is not only one of the leading experts on mutual funds-he is also a superb writer. His sharp wit and science-driven wisdom glide elegantly across the page as he teaches investors how to make sense of America's most common-and most baffling-investment vehicles." -- John Morley, Associate Professor of Law, Yale Law School "It's hard to believe the phrases 'entertainingly written' and 'mutual funds' go in the same sentence, but William Birdthistle manages this feat in Empire of the Fund. An urgent must read for anyone interested in retirement policy, investment history and how it all went wrong for so many Americans." -- Helaine Olen, author of Pound Foolish and The Index Card "In Empire of the Fund, Birdthistle colorfully traces the history of problems with mutual funds, and he explains the potential benefits and drawbacks of alternatives. His recommendations for strengthening mutual funds are provocative and tightly argued, and include both financial licensing requirements and more rigorous enforcement. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the dangers-and potential benefits-in this important part of the financial markets." -- Frank Partnoy, George E. Barrett Professor of Law and Finance, University of San Diego "Empire of the Fund provides an engaging, thorough review of the mysterious multi-trillion dollar mutual fund industry. Leading investment law expert, Birdthistle diagnoses what's ailing our funds and how we can heal them. This book provides a necessary first step to improve financial literacy so investors have the knowledge and tools to secure better options for their retirement savings." -- Jennifer Taub, Vermont Law School and author of Other People's Houses

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