Should Investors Join the Index Revolution? Evidence from Around the World
Journal of Asset Management, 21(3) (2020): 192-218
79 Pages Posted: 7 May 2020 Last revised: 18 May 2020
Date Written: April 2, 2020
Over the past fifteen years, passive investing has seen 1.5 trillion dollars of fund inflows while active investing has seen 500 billion of outflows. These numbers are in line with the tenets of passive investing, which assert it is close to impossible to consistently outperform the market. We therefore ask in this paper whether there are truly no viable alternatives to indexing and passive investing. We devise a simple actively-managed strategy based on a new version of the minimum variance portfolio that outperforms comparable stock indices around the world with on average 20.2% higher raw returns, 46.7% higher risk-adjusted returns, and 28.4% smaller drawdowns. Furthermore, it exhibits 32.4% lower portfolio turnover than the 1/N strategy of DeMiguel et al. (2009) around the world. Not only does this actively-managed portfolio have higher returns at lower risk (the well-known risk-return puzzle), it also displays higher returns at higher skewness levels (i.e. lower downside risk) and thus presents a novel skewness-return puzzle. Moreover, the portfolio also has lower recession risk. Our evidence thus suggests that the principles of passive investing should be questioned and that more effort in the actively-managed fund industry should be devoted to the exploration and application of similar strategies to overcome the industry's decades-long underperformance.
Keywords: passive investing, market efficiency, minimum variance portfolio, smart beta, portfolio management, international financial markets
JEL Classification: G11, G14, G15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation