With the exception of one category, more than 75% of active bond managers underperform their benchmarks according to a mid-year scorecard published by Standard & Poors.

The semi-annual report, Standard & Poor’s Index Versus Active Fund Scorecard (SPIVA), analyzes quarterly performance data for U.S. equity, international and fixed income mutual funds benchmarked against appropriate asset class indices.  More than 3500 actively managed funds are covered in the scorecard.

The scorecard compares bond manager performance in 13 categories.  Managers were able to outperform the index more than 50% of the time over a five year period in only category, Emerging Markets Debt Funds.  However, even in that category, the benchmark is outperforming active managers over three-year and one-year periods.

The largest exchange traded fund focused on the aggregate bond market is the iShares Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Fund (AGG).  The $10 billion fund tracks an index of the total United States investment grade bond market.

See the ETF directory for a complete listing of Fixed Income ETFs.