Fixed Income Fund Performance across Economic States

Research in Finance

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1345-7, eISBN: 978-1-84950-441-6

ISSN: 0196-3821

Publication date: 11 December 2006


We evaluate the performance of fixed income mutual funds using stochastic discount factors motivated by continuous-time term structure models. Time-aggregation of these models for discrete returns generates new empirical “factors,” and these factors contribute significant explanatory power to the models. We provide a conditional performance evaluation for US fixed income mutual funds, conditioning on a variety of discrete ex-ante characterizations of the states of the economy. During 1985–1999 we find that fixed income funds return less on average than passive benchmarks that do not pay expenses, but not in all economic states. Fixed income funds typically do poorly when short-term interest rates or industrial capacity utilization rates are high, and offer higher returns when quality-related credit spreads are high. We find more heterogeneity across fund styles than across characteristics-based fund groups. Mortgage funds underperform a GNMA index in all economic states. These excess returns are reduced, and typically become insignificant, when we adjust for risk using the models.


Ferson, W., Kisgen, D. and Henry, T. (2006), "Fixed Income Fund Performance across Economic States", Chen, A. (Ed.) Research in Finance (Research in Finance, Vol. 23), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-62.

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