Nearly half of the industry's mutual funds are on sale. Whether that represents a bargain or a potential headache for shareholders is the subject of disagreement within and outside the mutual fund industry.

A fund adviser's decision to gradually reduce its fee waiver is becoming a key part of the debate about the fairness of mutual fund fees. The flexibility of fee waivers - the practice of a fund adviser agreeing to limit or forego its fee as part of a cap on the expenses of a fund - effectively allows advisers to increase their fees without getting approval from fund shareholders, according to critics of the practice. That, the critics say, is unfair.

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