Last Thursday, Ian Salisbury's "Fund Track" item in the Journal included the following nugget:
That's a lot of ETFs.
So as we flipped through (i.e., recycled) some recently-arrived industry mags, we ran across the quarterly "ETF Reference Guide" put together by Research. That rapidly-expanding insert always seems to provide a few laughs. Here are our nominations for the funniest* ETFs in the marketplace, with award categories in bold and ticker symbols, expense ratios, and average daily trading volumes in parentheses. Data are through November 25, 2008.
ELEMENTS Benjamin Graham Total Market Value (BVT; 0.75%; 164)
Cynical Exploitation of Something Genuinely Important (Unnecessarily Long Name Subcategory)
ELEMENTS Credit Suisse Global Warming Index ETN (GWO; 0.75%; 1,673)
Provocatively Indeterminate Fund Name
First Trust Nasdaq Clean Edge U.S. Liquid (QCLN; 0.60%; 26,452)
Obligatory HealthShares Nominee
HealthShares Diagnostics (HHD; 0.60%; 6,562)
Better Than Regressive Transportation
PowerShares Global Progressive Transportation Portfolio (PTRP; 0.75%; 445)
Not Necessarily Clinging to the Efficient Frontier
Claymore/AlphaShares China Small Cap Index (HAO; 0.70%; 54,856)
Taking a Bad Idea and Making It Worse
Claymore/Zacks Country Rotation (CRO; 0.65% 4,644)
Country-Specific Chocolate Yes, Country-Specific ETF No
iShares MSCI Belgium (EWK; 0.51%; 88,770)
Ticker Symbol Onomatopoeia (multiple winners)
First Trust Multi Cap AlphaDEX Fund (FAD; 0.70%; 4,818)
WisdomTree International Dividend Top 100 Fund (DOO; 0.58%; 41,933)
PowerShares DWA Developed Market Technical Leaders (PIZ; 0.80%; 27,030)
Dubious Ticker Symbol Expropriation of Ancient Cultural Concepts
Claymore/AlphaShares China Real Estate (TAO; 0.65%; 13,874)
Name That Will Not End
E-TRACS UBS Bloomberg CMCI Short Platinum ETN (PTD; 0.65%; 2,161)
Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
PowerShares Listed Private Equity (PSP; 0.60%; 99,265)
Pure Esoteric Delightfulness
Barclays Asian and Gulf Currency Revaluation ETN (PGD; 0.89%; 13,855)
We're written before on the silliness manifested in certain corners of the ETF universe (here, here, here, and here for example). That absurdity will continue, no doubt, but you might want to get your giggles in now. Given their trading volume, some of the winners listed above might not be around much longer.
* On their investment merits, some of these are not irredeemably ridiculous. Some are. But for one reason or another, all of these struck us as funny. And in the midst of financial markets like these, we'll take funny where we can find it.
Ian Salisbury, "New ETFs Bank On Social Themes," Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2009