Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The most powerful actors in the financial world might well be the index providers. They essentially compel all passive investors when it comes to their asset allocation. They also create the benchmarks against which nearly all active investors are measured.

The state of play: When indices change, billions of dollars of money can end up moving as a result. When it comes to emerging markets, the two giants of the indexing world are the MSCI for stocks and the EMBI for bonds. When those indices are altered, all emerging-market fund managers, be they active or passive, will feel the consequences.

  • Index providers are susceptible to government coercion. China twisted MSCI's arm to try to persuade it to include Chinese stocks in its emerging market index. Meanwhile, Venezuelan politicians aligned with Juan Guaidó, who may or may not be the president of Venezuela depending on who you believe, want JPMorgan, which runs the EMBI index, to keep the country in the index, despite the fact that it's illegal for Americans to buy Venezuela's bonds.

The bottom line: Everything is susceptible to human biases, even supposedly objective indices. People think that the S&P 500 includes the 500 biggest stocks in America, for instance, but it doesn't: Tesla has never been included. If you can influence the people who determine what gets into the index and what doesn't, that's real power.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 32,683,686 — Total deaths: 990,977 — Total recoveries: 22,535,887Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 7,072,897 — Total deaths: 204,446 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,488,275Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

What they're saying: Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden of the White House on Sept. 26. Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Democratic and Republican lawmakers along with other leading political figures reacted to President Trump's Saturday afternoon nomination of federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

What they're saying: "President Trump could not have made a better decision," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. "Judge Amy Coney Barrett is an exceptionally impressive jurist and an exceedingly well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States."

Trump introduces Amy Coney Barrett as nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg

President Trump announced he's nominating federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

Why it matters: She could give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court, and her nomination sets in motion a scramble among Senate Republicans to confirm her with 38 days before the election. Sen. Mitch McConnell appears to have the votes to confirm Barrett with the current majority.