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I recently ran across the term "closed-end fund", but the author didn't explain what it was. What is a "closed-end" fund vs a typical mutual fund, and are there advantagets/disadvantages to each?

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A closed-end fund is a collective investment scheme that is closed to new investment once the fund starts operating. A typical open-ended fund will allow you to buy more shares of the fund anytime you want and the fund will create those new shares for you and invest your new money to continue growing assets under management. A closed-end fund only using the initial capital invested when the fund started operating and no new shares are typically created (always exception in the financial community). Normally you buy and sell an open-end fund from the fund company directly. A closed-end fund will usually be bought and sold on the secondary market.

Here is some more information from Wikipedia

Some characteristics that distinguish a closed-end fund from an ordinary open-end mutual fund are that:

  1. it is closed to new capital after it begins operating, and
  2. its shares (typically) trade on stock exchanges rather than being redeemed directly by the fund.
  3. its shares can therefore be traded during the market day at any time. An open-end fund can usually be traded only at the closing price at the end of the market day.
  4. a CEF usually has a premium or discount. An open-end fund sells at its NAV (except for sales charges).

Another distinguishing feature of a closed-end fund is the common use of leverage or gearing to enhance returns. CEFs can raise additional investment capital by issuing auction rate securities, preferred shares, long-term debt, and/or reverse-repurchase agreements. In doing so, the fund hopes to earn a higher return with this excess invested capital.

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