James Saft Great Debate – James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

While they have avoided the opprobrium heaped on bankers during the bear market, traditional active fund managers have quietly been proving that they too are often highly paid destroyers of value.

Active managers have few bushes left to hide behind, and the release of a new report from Standard & Poor’s uproots one of the few left: that somehow they provide protection during down markets, being able to go into cash and defensive stocks.

Check out the study for the gory details but the takeaway is that across styles and markets the majority of active fund managers, often the vast majority, simply can’t manage money well enough to make up for their own costs and the costs of all of those trades.

Over the five year market cycle 2004-2008, the S&P 500 outperformed 71.9 percent of actively managed large cap funds and most active funds in each of the nine U.S. domestic equity style boxes were outperformed by indices during the disaster of 2008.