Fund Managemenet and Profitability of Zaibatsu Holding Companies in Prewar Japan



This paper analyzes fund management by the two largest zaibatsu holding companies in prewar Japan, Mitsubishi Limited Partnership and Mitsui Unlimited Partnership. We decompose the difference between the average rate of returns on the portfolios of Mitsubishi, Mitsui and the market, into the factor representing within industry difference in rate of returns (“rate of return factor”) and the factor representing difference in distributions of investment across industries (“portfolio factor”). It is found that Mitsubishi and Mitsui consistently outperformed the market in terms of the rate of return factor from the 1920s to the 1930s. In terms of the portfolio factor, whereas Mitsubishi and Mitsui underperformed the market in the 1920s, they came to outperform the market in the middle of 1930s, which suggests the investment policy of zaibatsu from long-term perspectives.