Earning trust, and maybe strong returns

These are iffy times in the market, but you can at least take comfort that your mutual fund managers have their “skin in the game,” too, right? says Chuck Jaffe in MarketWatch. “Alas, all too often,” no. Morningstar did an analysis of its Morningstar 500 funds, and managers had nothing invested in 46 percent of their own domestic stock funds, 60 percent of their foreign stocks funds, and 70 percent of their blended funds. “Ouch. That’s a lot of managers who are going out to eat, rather than eating their own cooking.” And perhaps it’s not surprising, but the funds with significant manager ownership performed better. Maybe mutual fund firms should give managers their bonuses in shares of their own funds.

What to do about product placement?

Faced with commercial-skipping digital video recorders like TiVO, says the Los Angeles Times in an editorial, TV advertisers are increasingly blurring “the line between infomercial and entertainment” by buying product placements. Some shows, especially reality TV programs, can have a “jaw-dropping” 100 or more brand-name products strategically placed in each episode. Hollywood writers and other critics would effectively poison the embedded ads, but that could open the door to “all manner of governmental paternalism.” Yet tougher regulation, especially with kids’ shows and news programs, would be welcome. The Federal Communications Commission is on the right track in proposing greater disclosure of such ad buys.