NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Despite a growing controversy over the use of leveraged ETFs, ProShares has launched another inverse exchange-traded fund designed to short longer-term Treasuries.
The ProShares Short 20+ Year Treasury (TBF) is set to track the Barclays Capital U.S. 20+ Year Treasury Bond Index, an underlying index used for successful traditional funds.
Investors may be temped to believe that a "single" inverse Treasury fund like TBF would be less risky than other types of leveraged funds. The recent shakedown in the leveraged ETF business has taught investors otherwise. TBF, like other leveraged fund strategies, is a daily tracking ETF that is appropriate for sophisticated investors.
TBF will join four other ETFs in shorting longer-term Treasuries. ProShares currently offers UltraShort 7-10 Year Treasury (PST) and the UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury (TBT) funds. Both PST and TBT offer 200% short exposure versus the milder 100% short exposure set to be offered by TBF.Rival leveraged fund issuer Direxion also offers a set of short Treasury funds. The Daily 10-Year Treasury Bear 3x Shares (TYO) and the Daily 30-Year Treasury Bear 3x Shares (TMV) offer even greater leverage than the ProShares strategies. TYO and TMV offer investors 300% short exposure to their underlying indexes. ETFs do not necessarily have the qualities of the securities that they track. While the market for treasuries is typically highly liquid, there is no guarantee that TBF will garner enough investor attention to offer ample liquidity. It is likely that the leveraged used by TBF will also make this fund more volatile than the Treasuries it tracks. Leveraged ETFs use instruments like futures and swaps to synthetically achieve their objectives. Rather than simply owning a basket of stocks or bonds, like many traditional ETFs, these funds amplify their indexes with derivatives. This results in complex strategies that are inappropriate for many retail investors.