Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Exchange Traded Funds may be the next bubble! -1



Exchange Traded Funds currently experiencing rapid development in the United States, where they constitute more than half of the daily trading volume in the equity markets. The expansion of these instruments is less visible for the moment in Europe, because in U.S. where half of the market is held by individual investors where as in Atlantic the investors are mainly institutional investors are present in this class asset. Just may be feared that the development of the ETF market is currently powering the next financial meltdown? Recall that the ETF are the basis of funds, that is to say, collective investment vehicles such as UCITS, whose purpose is to replicate the performance of a market index, upward or downward, and whose shares are traded on the stock exchange just like stocks. They offer investors the opportunity to take a position, with management costs and tax costs reduced on a market index, including inaccessible or illiquid markets such as emerging markets, small caps, etc.

There are ETFs on all sectors of the market, and if a little unlikely sector is not yet covered today and in tomorrow it will emerge as new ETF. This is happening almost daily. We will soon invest in the segment of companies specializing in the balloon or tie pins, or companies based in anywhere. If there is no index representing the performance of the sector concerned, no problem, it creates the index and the ETF in stride. The phenomenon went beyond the stock market and extends to all asset classes, bonds (ETN Exchange Traded Notes), commodities (ETC Exchange Traded Commodities), futures, currencies (ETV Exchange Traded Vehicle) etc. The set is grouped under the term FTE, Exchange Traded Products. In short it is a beautiful alphabet soup simmering and is reminiscent of a previous recipe, the securitization (remember the ABS, MBS, RMBS, CMBS, CDO, etc), which had overflowed with some damage collateral for the past 5 years from now.

On the road there is nothing simpler than ETF investor buys an index, and as follows, upward or downward, the performance of the index being tracked. But precisely how this replication is obtained? There are two main methods: physical replication and synthetic replication. With physical replication, the issuer of the ETF actually holds the portfolio securities of the index being tracked. It calculates and communicates information two times: first, the net asset value equal to the valuation at market prices of assets held , divided by the number of shares issued and secondly the market price of the share , which comes from the comparison of buying and selling interests in exchange just like a stock. Both figures; net asset value and share price must be the same to a small margin near.

What will happen in case of divergence? These are specialized intermediaries (“authorized participants "), mandated by the fund issuer, which come into action. If the market value of the share exceeds the net asset value then the ETF is moving faster than the rise in the index, they will buy a basket of stocks in the index. This then delivers their new units; they can sell on the market, realizing a capital gain. Conversely, if the market price is below the net asset value of the fund, they will buy ETFs on the market and present it to again, which reimburses them by delivering the underlying assets. They can then sell these securities on the market and making a profit. These so-called arbitrage transactions are fully automated and have the effect of “realign " asset prices that were uncorrelated. It is the development of algorithmic trading has led to the development of ETFs.

 In case of synthetic replication, the issuer does not directly hold securities of the index, but other assets. It will then go to a specialized intermediary , typically a bank, to negotiate with him a "total return swap " the bank pays the issuer of the ETF 's performance index, while it reverse the performance of assets held in the portfolio. Physical replication is mainly practiced in the United States, where regulation severely limits the use of derivatives by collective investment funds. In Europe, ETFs are equally divided between the two modes of replication. We are mainly interested here in the physical replication, in which today we have a little more perspective. All this cooking takes place behind the scenes between specialized players (asset managers, hedge funds, brokers and banks financing and investment), thus preserving the image of simplicity and transparency between the final investor.

This should not, however, be fooled: many intermediaries are involved in constantly, and we must be aware that they do not by pure philanthropy, but because they have an interest. There was a second there the resemblance securitization market: the first beneficiaries of financial innovation are not the ultimate investors, but those who create and distribute these innovative instruments. That said, proponents point out that these ETF products are primarily funds, and so most of them are within the regulatory framework for the funds. These regulations, both in Europe in the United States, are very demanding especially in terms of transparency to investors . It is up to them to read the prospectus in which he will find, in principle, all the necessary information.

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