Wall Street: How the Funds Are Faring

The U.S.'s mutual funds often seem as tough, persistent and irrepressible as the 100,000 salesmen (mostly part-timers) who peddle them. In the past 18 months they have been hit by a stock-market crash, a blistering attack on their performance from Pennsylvania's Wharton business school, and a severe critique of their aggressiveness from the Securities & Exchange Commission. Yet, to hear the leading fund dealers talk at their annual convention in Miami Beach last week, all this was in the past —and the bull was back in the mutual-fund business.

Despite the salesman's...

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