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Fund Spy

The Still-Sorry State of Bond-Fund Disclosure

It's five years after the crisis, and bond funds still badly need to improve how they tell shareholders what they own.

A version of this column originally appeared on in August 2009. 

On any given day, you might find Morningstar analysts sifting through pages of bond-fund reports and factless "fact sheets" trying to grasp a manager's strategy or what kind of market exposure a fund has. Forget about the shareholder letter providing anything useful. If you're lucky you might learn a little about why the fund performed the way it did during a six-month period that ended two months ago. But detailed explanations of a fund's market bets, or what's driving a manager to make them, are often few and far between.