THE LEX COLUMN: The steady rise of passive index funds
Passive funds may just be getting going and since 2018 they ran $10-trillion worldwide, up sixfold in a decade
Jack Bogle was pushy. Innovators need to be. Without audacity and drive, his index funds would not have flourished as they did. But without the compelling idea they embodied — investment at low cost, divorced from human error — these efforts would also have foundered. Traditional portfolio managers smirked at Bogle’s $11m First Index Investment Trust (now the Vanguard group) when it launched in 1976. No-one is laughing now. In 2018, index funds ran $10-trillion worldwide, up sixfold in a decade. Is the market saturated? Or are passive funds just getting going? By one measure, they cover only 15% of US equity market capitalisation. By another, they are worth 37% of equity under management globally. The market share at which active managers have an innate advantage is unknowable. Above 50%, pundits will start seeing tipping points. Passive funds will get there. The reason? Low charges can be relied on. Superior performance cannot. Bogle was the antidote to the rentiers of asset manage...