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ETFs Are Not a Strategy

EWG exposes investors to Germany and also the euro currency. An investor might want exposure to Germany but not the euro so could consider the db X-trackers MSCI Germany Hedged Equity Fund (DBGR) or the WisdomTree Germany Hedged Equity Fund (DXGE). DBGR tracks the same index as EWG but hedged out the currency and DXGE tracks a dividend oriented index while also hedging out the currency.

The First Trust Germany AlphaDEX Fund (FGM) tracks an enhanced index, a term very similar to smart beta and there are also a two ETF that provide small cap exposure to Germany including one from iShares.

It would be unnecessary for iShares to try to steer investors into one exposure or the other as opposed to saying it offers two exposures to Germany for investors to choose from based on analysis they themselves have done.

Where ETFs do become the strategy is when an active mutual fund manager gets into the ETF business with biggest example being PIMCO although there will be more of this soon. PIMCO currently offers 23 ETFs, nine of which are actively managed funds. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that PIMCO will be rolling out 19 new funds, all of which will be actively managed.

A buyer of the PIMCO Total Return ETF (BOND) or the soon to be listed PIMCO Unconstrained Bond ETF is buying a strategy that they expect to justify the expense by virtue of superior nominal returns or risk adjusted returns.

The vast majority of ETFs track an index and Sapir is right about those but the soon to come increase of actively managed funds will change the dynamic of the ETF market place just as ETFs changed the investment industry.

At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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