2008 Presidential Address

Date recorded Jan 04, 2008

2008 Presidential Address: Kenneth R. French

The Cost of Active Investing
 

Abstract

I compare the fees, expenses, and trading costs society pays to invest in the U.S. stock market with an estimate of what would be paid if everyone invested passively. Averaging over 1980 to 2006, I find investors spend 0.67% of the aggregate value of the market each year searching for superior returns. This implies that society’s capitalized cost of price discovery is at least 10% of the current market cap. Moreover, under reasonable assumptions, the typical investor would increase his average annual return by 67 basis points over the 1980 to 2006 period if he switched to a passive market portfolio.

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