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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Inverse and Leveraged ETFs

From Ticker Sense

There has been much talk lately about the unique new ETFs being offered by ProShares. Not only can individual investors now buy inverse ETFs that correspond to the opposite of the daily performance of the index, but they can also buy leveraged inverse ETFs that correspond to twice the inverse of the daily performance of the index (effectively allowing investors to conveniently double short the market, even in non-margin accounts). The ETFs offer plenty of new strategies that every day investors have had trouble executing in the past, so we wondered if the availability of these new short products would have any impact on markets.

To date, trading in the new ETFs has been relatively illiquid, and therefore they have likely had little impact on the market. Regardless, they bring back memories of the Japanese market during the late 1989 and early 1990 period. Back then several brokerage companies introduced listed warrants on the Nikkei stock market, thereby allowing individual investors the opportunity to short an asset class that they previously had little or no access to, namely Japanese stocks.

Whether or not the puts caused the decline in Japanese stocks or the drop in Japanese stocks led to the listing of the warrants is certainly open to debate, but one cannot deny the similar timeframes in which both events occurred. We would also remind readers that the current US market probably has more differences than similarities with the Japanese market of 1989, however we thought readers would be interested nonetheless.

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