International mutual funds allow individual investors to diversify abroad at a reasonable cost. This paper tests whether international funds that actively engage in country and security selection outperform passive global benchmarks. We apply a mean-variance efficiency test that incorporates the practical prohibition against short sales of open-end mutual funds. Our tests reject the efficiency of the world equity market portfolio over the sample period, and our funds as a group outperform the inefficient world index. However, we find no evidence of security selectivity ability using a 12-country benchmark. We do find that active international funds provide global diversification benefits. Tests using the Positive Period Weight (PPW) measure of Grinblatt and Titman (1989), which is robust to nonlinearity in fund and benchmark returns, yield similar results.
Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 29, 2004
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