The U.S. fund industry is beginning to recover from possibly the worst economic and financial correction that it has ever experienced, says Jonathan Krieder, a fiduciary research analyst will Lipper in Denver. In order to understand what has changed in the industry over the past year and what lies ahead, Lipper surveyed U.S. asset managers.

The survey found that the U.S. fund industry is now showing signs of stabilization, as the recent recession appears to be easing. “Fund assets have increased substantially from February lows, driven by strong market returns and increasing net sales of mutual fund shares,” explains Krieder.

The impact of the past year on fund-expense caps seems to have been mixed. A small number of firms sought board approval for expense-cap increases, while a number of firms indicated that expense caps were lowered for funds over the past year.

Through the end of the year, 2009 is expected to entail more merger activity than has been experienced in the industry for some time, according to Krieder. “As fund assets plummeted, many funds were merged due to decreasing sales and in order to stem some operational inefficiencies,” he says.

Still, profitability for asset managers has declined over the past year in line with lower assets under management.