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Market Extra: The Dow Jones Industrial Average is the best active fund ever engineered

The strongest support for the merits of active management may have been staring Wall Street plainly in the face for more than a century.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.12% which many view as synonymous with stock performance, has accomplished a remarkable feat since its inception in 1896: The blue-chip gauge has beaten the overall market, as measured by the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.19% for long stretches of time.

Statistically speaking, this is basically unprecedented. Data have repeatedly shown that active management, especially over the long term, cannot compare with passive in terms of returns.

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