The Wall Street Journal outlines that some funds are adding market timing to their strategy, clearly with hindsight a good idea for 2008:
The Quaker Small-Cap Growth Tactical Allocation Fund, launched late last year, now has about half its assets in cash, down from as much as 95% last year. The new John Hancock Technical Opportunities Fund had about 12% cash at the end of October and is managed using a strategy that devoted roughly 90% to cash early this year
Unfortunately, there is less evidence that market timing is feasible than stock picking. Indeed, in 1960s the first tests of mutual funds took seriously the idea the funds added value timing the market, but it was quickly discovered there was nothing there. Considering that predicting the aggregate stock market has major data limitations (there just aren't enough stock market cycles in one's working life), this skill tends to be mainly marketing bluster.
Anders Ekholm, adjunct professor at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, recently analyzed more than 4,000 U.S. stock funds' returns between 2000 and 2007. Managers helped their performance through stock-picking, he found, but hurt their returns by market-timing.
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