Mount Holyoke College, B.A., History, 1994.
The Rise of America’s Mutual Fund Industry, 1945-1990
Since World War II, the mutual fund industry has evolved so that it currently plays a significant role in individuals’ lives, as well as in the wider investment industry and financial world. The percentage of Americans who own shares has increased and stock market analysts are increasingly concerned about the influence institutional money managers have over market movements. The mutual fund industry now comprises the largest segment of the financial services sector and has increasingly influenced capital formation and flows.
The industry also epitomizes the democratization of investment securities that has evolved since World War II. Both blue-collar workers and white-collar professionals have increasingly invested their wages in mutual funds. In greater numbers, employees, as well as the self-employed, have relied upon mutual funds for their retirement and other long-term financial needs. Through these investments, middle-income Americans have come to own a significant portion of corporate America.
My dissertation explores how and why these shifts took place. How did the mutual fund industry achieve its dominant position? What caused middle-income Americans to gravitate towards mutual funds in such large numbers? To what extent did the industry grow because it favorably responded to factors outside of its control, such as inflation and stock market performance, and to what degree did the industry shape the investment world around itself?