‘Mutual Fund’ Google Searches At 4-Year Low

It rained all weekend in the Chicago area. That’s my excuse for why I ran a Google Trends search on “mutual funds.”

I really was just wasting time on Google Trends. It was idle curiosity that drove me to see how “Lehman” searches spiked recently and I also ran a Bear Stearns search, both just to confirm my suspicions that they’d probably enjoyed relative search obscurity until this year.

But then I ran a “mutual funds” search. Early Saturday morning, I’d read a Wall Street Journal article about the “ostrich effect,” which quoted Vanguard as reporting that their mutual fund shareholders checked their account values far less often in June than they did in mid- to late 2007, when the market was up.

Typically, search volume is believed to be a proxy for relevance. In that context, the decline in searches for “mutual funds” at a time when mutual fund news references (see second, smaller graph) were actually higher than in previous years is just something that could cause one to invoke Jeff Foxworthy–you know, the comedian who tracks “things that make you go Hmm.”

As a P.S. but not to make a point because of course ETFs have been gaining awareness since 2004, I also ran an “ETFs” search. And noted the difference in the scale between the volume on the two search terms. Hmmm. (Still raining.)