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SPIVA is a national treasure. Run by S&P Dow Jones Indices, it's by far the most rigorous attempt to measure the probability that an active fund manager will outperform the relevant passive index.

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Data: SPIVA U.S. Year-End 2018; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

By the numbers: The year-end 2018 SPIVA scorecard is now out. It shows 69% of domestic funds underperforming the S&P 1500 over 1 year, and 88% of them underperforming over 5 years.

  • Internationally, 71% of global funds underperformed in 2018, with 85% underperforming over 5 years.
  • Among bond funds, 100% of long-dated and intermediate-dated government bond funds have underperformed over the past 3 years.

My thought bubble: People choose fund managers because they don't have the requisite time or skills to pick stocks themselves. But if you're not skilled enough to pick a stock that will outperform, you're not skilled enough to pick a fund manager that will outperform, either. Passive investment is a much smarter bet.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

Kids’ screen time up 50% during pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When the coronavirus lockdowns started in March, kidstech firm SuperAwesome found that screen time was up 50%. Nearly a year later, that percentage hasn't budged, according to new figures from the firm.

Why it matters: For most parents, pre-pandemic expectations around screen time are no longer realistic. The concern now has shifted from the number of hours in front of screens to the quality of screen time.