It’s a straightforward strategy: Track a broad swath of the market by buying shares in a low-cost index fund.

But it’s hardly the new, new thing; the country’s first index mutual fund, Vanguard 500 Index, opened in 1976. Yet indexing has never been more popular, and the numbers of distinct benchmarks and the funds that track them have swelled. There are now 1,732 index portfolios, compared with 419 a decade ago. Meanwhile, assets in stock index funds have grown 70% over the past five years, to $2 trillion, and cash in bond index funds has more than doubled, to $510 billion. Over the same period, money invested in actively managed U.S. stock portfolios has shrunk by 18%…

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Disclosures

This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding the Funds or any stock in particular, nor should it be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell a security, including futures contracts.

There are risks involved with investing, including loss of principal. Current and future portfolio holdings are subject to risks as well. International investments may involve risk of capital loss from unfavorable fluctuation in currency values, from differences in generally accepted accounting principles or from economic or political instability in other nations. Narrowly focused investments and smaller companies typically exhibit higher volatility. Bonds and bond funds will decrease in value as interest rates rise. High-yield bonds involve greater risks of default or downgrade and are more volatile than investment-grade securities, due to the speculative nature of their investments. Emerging markets involve heightened risks related to the same factors as well as increased volatility and lower trading volume.

Diversification may not protect against market risk. There is no assurance the objectives discussed will be met. Past performance does not guarantee future results Index returns are for illustrative purposes only and do not represent actual portfolio performance. Index returns do not reflect any management fees, transaction costs or expenses. One cannot invest directly in an index.