Tag Archives: passive management

Common Confusion

The critics of passive investing are nothing if not creative.  One of their objections to the growth of index funds stems from the putative problem of “common ownership.”  The argument is that index funds’ ownership of many of the competitors in most industries encourages or facilitates collusive behavior.  “[T]he fear is that by owning chunks Read more […]

A Way of Seeing

A wise man told me years ago that sometimes the things we see are less important than our way of seeing.  As more formerly-active investors begin to use passive vehicles, it’s useful to consider if there’s a distinctly index-centric way of seeing, and what its elements might be.  I think that there are at least Read more […]

The Gift of a Benevolent Providence

Suppose that I buy a popular exchange traded fund (ETF) tracking the S&P 500® today, leave it in my brokerage account for 20 years, and then sell it.  What return should I expect?  The answer, obviously, is that my return should reflect the movements in the S&P 500 (net of fees) over my 20-year holding Read more […]

Have Passive AUMs Eclipsed Active?

“You all did see that on the Lupercal I thrice presented him a kingly crown, Which he did thrice refuse.” Julius Caesar, Act 3 This morning’s Wall Street Journal declared that “Index Funds Are the New Kings of Wall Street.”  The coronation, and similar notes of the “end of an era,” were prompted by Morningstar Read more […]

Mapping the S&P 500 Trading Ecosystem

A new paper published today provides a new perspective on the active usage of products linked to S&P DJI indices, and illustrates the network of liquidity that has developed around the S&P 500® and other popular benchmarks. “Active” and “passive” are colloquial terms, and it can be hard to distinguish one from the other at Read more […]

Concentration Concerns

Readers of this morning’s Wall Street Journal learned (on the front page, no less) that many of the largest investors in the U.S. equity market hold similar portfolios.  “The overlap in the top 50 stockholdings between mutual funds and hedge funds…now stands at near-record levels, a study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch found.”  An Read more […]

Unreliable Investment Strategies

S&P Dow Jones Indices produces a semi-annual report comparing the performance of active managers to their target indices or benchmarks. The report is referred to as the SPIVA Scorecard (SPIVA standing for S&P Indices Versus Active Managers).  So, what does the SPIVA Scorecard tell us about performance?  As illustrated in the table above, for any regional equity class Read more […]

Buffetted Performance

Tomorrow, Warren Buffett and 30,000 of his closest friends will gather in Omaha for Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting.  The loyalty of long-term Berkshire shareholders is the stuff of legend, as is the investment performance that produced it.  $100 invested in Berkshire stock at the end of 1968 would have grown to more than $850,000 by Read more […]

Performance Trickery, part 2

Here is a 22-year history of a (hypothetical) actively-managed portfolio and its benchmark: Results have been decisively mediocre. The portfolio outperformed in only five years out of 22, for a hit rate of 22.7%. Its cumulative return (68.2%) lagged that of the benchmark (74.0%), and its volatility was higher (4.79% vs. 4.25%). The manager’s marketing department Read more […]

Active Management for Volatile Times?

This morning brought a report that “retail investors have returned to Wall Street, pouring money into mutual funds focused on US equities for the first time since early 2015, according to data from TrimTabs Investment Research…. ‘Maybe people think, in times of higher volatility, active managers will do a better job,’ Winston Chua, an analyst Read more […]