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Closed-End Fund Discounts in a Rational Agent Economy

Date: Mon, 8 Dec 97 19:20:15 CST

Nearly any standard financial model concludes that two assets with identical cash flows must sell for the same price. Alas, closed-end mutual fund company share prices seem to violate this fundamental tenant. Even when one considers several standard frictions, such as taxes and agency costs, classical financial models cannot explain the large persistent discounts found within the data. While the standard financial markets model may not explain the existence of large closed- end fund discounts, this paper shows that a rather close version of it does. In an otherwise frictionless market, if asset supplies vary randomly over time and agents posses finite lives a closed-end mutual fund's stock price may not track its net asset value. Furthermore, the analysis provides a number of conditions under which these discrepancies will lead to the existence of systematic discounts for the mutual fund's shares. In addition, the model provides predictions regarding the correlation between current closed-end fund discounts and current changes in stock prices and future changes in corporate productivity. As the analysis shows the same parameter values that lead to systematic discounts also lead to other fund price characteristics that resemble many of the results found within empirical studies.

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EconWPA began as a conversation between Bob Parks and Larry Blume on January 28, 1993. I located Paul Ginsparg's archive (then and he graciously installed his software on a Sun Sparc system which was supporting the department of economics email and computation. EconWPA began accepting papers July 1, 1993 and had ftp, email, gopher and web interfaces. The web interface for submissions was engineered into existence in July 1995. A complete and catastrophic machine failure in 1999 caused the loss of EconWPA's email new paper announcment service at which time there were over 15,000 subscriptions with over 8,000 unique email addresses.

In 2005, Arts and Sciences commandeered the computing services that I had provided to the Department of Economics since 1987. Some might say that the department was sold out, others would (erroneously) claim that centralization is efficient, and still others would claim that I have few marketing skills.

I was told that I could keep operating EconWPA (as well as many other services including,, and three RePEc servers) but I would receive no support (hardware, software, or anthing else) and (as had been the case) no compensation. At that point, given the apparent low valuation of my activities by the department, and university, it made no sense for me to continue operating EconWPA or other services.

Thanks to all who have supported EconWPA in the past.

A Chinese curse states May you live in intersting times. I have. Bob Parks - Jan 2006