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April 19th, 2007

Revolution or pollution?

As they expand, providers are pushing into new areas—and, as BGI's Matt Scanlan puts it, "slicing the baloney thinner". BGI and Vanguard have begun offering fixed-income ETFs; BGI recently launched one that tracks junk bonds. In stocks, it is no longer enough to track the obvious indexes, such as the S&P 500 or the Nikkei. The ETF firms' eggheads have been working overtime to create customised baskets that approximate particular industries or asset classes. There are ETFs that track spin-offs, private equity, gold, vaccine stocks, intellectual property, nanotechnology, clean energy, and much more. Others are designed to allow intriguing bets on standard indexes: the ProShares UltraShort QQQ, for instance, is a "double inverse" play on the NASDAQ 100. Investors gain 2% when the index falls 1%, and vice versa.


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