Pragmatic Capitalism

Practical Views on Money, Finance & Life

‘Myth Busting’

How Do Indexers Do Better Than Average?


One of the more common investing myths is the idea that indexing is necessarily “average”.¹ It makes sense at first. If you bought all of the stocks in the market then you’d generate the average return.  It would be like playing fantasy football and picking all of the players in the NFL. You would lose… Read More

Indexing is the Result of Homogeneous Markets, not the Cause


As indexing strategies gain in popularity I am seeing a common selling point from active stock picking fund managers – the idea that more indexing creates more opportunity for active managers. This appears correct on the surface. After all, if everyone started using index funds then this would create a homogeneous set of product wrappers that cannot… Read More

Trump is Wrong on the National Debt


Donald Trump made some controversial comments the other day regarding the national debt. First, he said: “We’re paying a very low interest rate — what happens if that interest rate goes up 2, 3, 4 points?” he said. “We don’t have a country. We have tremendous debt, tremendous.” Second, he said: “I’ve borrowed knowing that… Read More

The Myth of Declining American Living Standards


One of the running themes of this website over the last 6 years is the idea that the US economy is not doing nearly as well as it should be, however, that it’s also not doing nearly as bad as some people would have us believe. Unfortunately, whenever I publish something like the recent post on the solvency… Read More

Passive Investing isn’t Hurting the Economy


The new sales pitch for the high fee active manager goes something like this: “passive investing has gotten so large that this creates greater opportunities for us to take advantage of these inefficiencies and outperform the market.” In fairness, this comment is partly true because more passive investors should create the need for more active… Read More

Why Equity Outperforms Credit


In my new paper on asset allocation I go into quite a bit of detail about why certain asset classes generate the returns they do. Understanding this is useful when thinking in a macro sense and trying to gauge why financial assets perform in certain ways in both the short-term and the long-term. It’s important to… Read More

Is Indexing Just Another Wall Street Fad?


Here’s an interesting comment from value investor Seth Klarman on the rise of indexing (this is from 1991!): Klarman is obviously biased because he’s in the business of selling a high fee asset management platform. If indexing is right then his form of highly active alpha chasing asset management is wrong. This is basically what… Read More

Let’s Talk About the US Government’s Interest Burden


Greg Ip had a piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday discussing the debt burden in the USA and how low interest rates have “moved back” the “hands on the doomsday debt clock”.  The article touches on the important topic of entitlement spending and whether it’s sustainable, but does so in a manner that misleads readers… Read More