Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:
A moment for active fund managers
Stock pickers had a good run last year, said Suzanne Woolley in Bloomberg Businessweek. In 2022, 62 percent of active managers of large company "core" mutual funds "beat the market," delivering better returns than the benchmark S&P 500 index. "That's the highest percentage of active portfolios to notch a win since 2005." Most active managers still lost money, but they at least found ways to "limit the damage" as the S&P 500 plunged nearly 20 percent. "This development seems to affirm a favorite marketing line of fund companies: When times get tough, active management shines." But anyone tempted to dump their index funds should remember that "stocks have more up years than down ones," and in up years, indexes rule.
Retirement savers stay the course
The market was a scary place in 2022 as inflation soared and stocks sank, said Anne Tergesen in The Wall Street Journal. But most Americans left their retirement accounts alone, "resisting the temptation to sell assets and risk their long-term financial security." Programs putting "saving and investing on autopilot" helped. Trading activity "fell to a two-decade low" among participants in Vanguard's 401(k)-style accounts, according to company data. Six percent of those managing their own 401(k) investments transferred money between funds last year, down from 10 percent in 2020. Among those with diversified target-date funds that automatically adjust asset mixes with age, only 2 percent made any 2022 trades. Still, there are signs people are feeling "financial stress," including a jump in hardship distributions from retirement plans.
Office snooping backfires for bosses
Remote-work monitoring is surging and growing more intrusive, said Kate Morgan and Delaney Nolan at BBC. By some estimates, the number of big companies using software to keep tabs on workers has doubled in three years. Some of these programs record keystrokes or take periodic screenshots. Others record calls, access webcams, or "enable full remote access to workers' systems." At one company, an IT worker said his team had to give his boss the password to control their computers "so he could connect without us having to accept." The system caused anxiety and burnout. Mounting evidence suggests such backfires are common, and the atmosphere of stress and intimidation "can even make workers do their job worse — on purpose."
This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.