The question may not be how independent mutual fund boards should be, but whether investors would be better off without fund boards altogether.

That's because mutual fund boards, which bear the responsibility of overseeing and setting fund expense ratios, impede competition, said Peter J. Wallison, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Robert E. Litan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, both in Washington. The result is a wide disparity in shareholder costs among similar funds and the erosion of returns, they said.

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