The Power of an Index

Sep 2000 //
Benchmarks

…very few people know who David Blitzer is and how influential his decisions are.  Mr. Blitzer heads a committee at Standard and Poor’s that decides which stocks will be included in the S&P 500—thus essentially deciding how hundreds of billions in index fund and ‘closet’ index fund monies are invested…. It probably doesn’t occur to index fund investors that their investments help distort free market (capitalist) resource allocation, but that’s exactly what’s happening.  Investment capital allocation based on factors such as profitability and business outlook has been replaced with allocation based on inclusion in an index.  In addition, Mr. Blitzer’s S&P 500 selections help explain the lofty valuations in some technology stocks (given all the mandatory index fund buying) and the relatively lower market valuations of non-technology companies.  Heaven help us if Blitzer feels a need to include underwater basket-weaving stocks in the S&P 500.