Bogle says if everybody indexed, markets will fail under chaos

  • Business
  • Monday, 08 May 2017

NEW YORK: Investors wouldn’t have a way to capture value in the stock market if it were entirely held by passively managed funds, according to Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard Group.

“If everybody indexed, the only word you could use is chaos, catastrophe,” he said in an interview with Yahoo! Finance.

“There would be no trading, there would be no way to convert a stream of income into a pile of capital or a pile of capital into a stream of income. The markets would fail.”

But Bogle, who spoke on the sidelines of the annual shareholders meeting of Berkshire Hathaway Inc in Omaha, Nebraska, also said the chances of everybody indexing is “zero.”

Warren Buffett, Berkshire’s chief executive officer, called out Bogle’s presence in the audience at the start of the meeting, and praised him for helping millions of American investors save on fees and realise better returns.

Bogle created the first index fund for retail investors and has championed the view that most active managers could do no better than the index over time.

A flood of investors have followed his advice in recent years. In 2016 they poured US$480bil into passive funds, a mix of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), while pulling more than US$380bil from active mutual funds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Passive equity investments may become as much as 45% of the mutual fund industry within five years as investors move to low-cost funds, Bogle said in an interview on Bloomberg Radio in March. It’s now between 20% and 40%, Bogle said on Saturday, and could reach 75% without posing a significant market risk.

He distinguished ETFs from other funds that track the indexes, saying that investors in those products don’t maintain the same “buy and hold” mentality. — Bloomberg

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