NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The successful launch of the ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (PPLT) and ETFS Physical Palladium Shares (PALL) ETFs on Jan. 8 once again proved the efficiency of ETFs in opening up segments of the market to everyday investors.
Now, the price of platinum in the U.S. -- once influenced by a small group of manufacturers, futures traders and miners -- will reflect the demand of American investors, who have flocked to ETFs for inexpensive, transparent exposure.
Criticism of PPLT and PALL, the first U.S. ETFs to offer physically backed exposure to platinum and palladium, is both misguided as well as misdirected.
According to a Jan. 19 Wall Street Journal article, "Platinum and palladium futures rose sharply Tuesday, settling at their highest levels since July, boosted by demand from newly launched exchange-traded funds that are luring investors, but could be a headache for consumers of the physical metals."While platinum and palladium futures markets will undoubtedly reflect the increased demand for the physical metal, PALL and PPLT can hardly be held responsible for manipulating the futures market and "luring" investors. Like the massive SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) and iShares Silver (SLV) ETFs, PALL and PPLT are backed by physical assets, meaning that the funds have to buy and store the metals to meet investor demand for shares. Physically backed ETFs like PALL and PPLT are a world apart from the futures-backed funds that have recently drawn the ire of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). It is futures-backed funds, such as the United States Natural Gas (UNG), that truly have the potential to manipulate markets and lure investors into vehicles inappropriate for their strategies.