The Biggest Problem With The Bitcoin ETF
It might only be slight hyperbole to say that anyone that has visited a financial news television station, web site or blog today is well-aware that the Winklevoss twins of Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) fame have filed plans for a bitcoin ETF.
That itself is not a problem. For starters, issuers do not bring to market every ETF for which they file. Remember the filing for the Pakistan ETF? It has yet to debut, so just because the Winklevoss boys have taken a break from rowing does not mean investors are guaranteed to be treated to the bitcoin fund.
Nor is the biggest problem that bitcoin is not a currency that is readily accepted at all locations. Bitcoin may be a well-known term and some say the market is liquid, but the reality is one cannot run to the local bodega and pay for a pack of smokes and gummy bears in bitcoin.
The most unfortunate aspect of the bitcoin ETF has nothing to do with the fund itself or the Winklevoss twins, but rather the ensuing infatuation with the story. Is a bitcoin ETF a newsworthy story? Absolutely, but the problem is that plenty of more compelling new ETFs that have already come to market are being obfuscated by headlines that a bitcoin fund MAY becoming out at a date that has yet to be disclosed.
Pro tip: When an ETF filing does not include a ticker or expense ratio, the fund's debut usually is not imminent. The bitcoin ETF filing did not include those tidbits.
New ETFs usually face an uphill battle for two primary reasons. There is the obvious of having to attract investors' assets away from more established funds. Then there is the deeply flawed school of thought that investors should wait for new ETFs to become seasoned. There is no empirical evidence to back up that assertion, but there is evidence to suggest ETFs are, well, ETFs, not spice racks.
Roughly 70 new ETFs have come to market this year, including a flurry of new product introductions last week. Not all of these products are perfect. Some will not be successful. However, it is not a stretch to say that many traders do not know that they can do access Japan with triple leverage with the Direxion Daily Japan Bull 3X Shares (NYSE: JPNL) and the Direxion Daily Japan Bear 3X Shares (NYSE: JPNS).
Some investors that are looking to increase their international exposure may not be aware that there are now two Israel ETFs and three Colombia ETFs to choose from.
Fearing rising interest rates and looking for a short-duration bond ETF with which to cope? The Global Short Term High Yield Bond Portfolio (NYSE: PGHY) debuted a few weeks ago is an option, but in its short life span, PGHY has, unfortunately, received less attention than the bitcoin ETF that is not even trading.
Plenty of new dividend ETFs have debuted this year. Compelling options include the Global X SuperDividend U.S ETF (NYSE: DIV), WisdomTree U.S. Dividend Growth Fund (NASDAQ: DGRW) and the Cambria Shareholder Yield ETF (NYSE: SYLD). What sounds like a better investment, an ETF that is 100 percent bitcoin or one that allocates a combined nine percent of its weight to Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) as DGRW does?
Not all new ETFs merit consideration and not all of them can be covered everyday. However, if the bitcoin ETF has caused this much of a fervor, it is probably time to shine a light on the more practical products that can better serve traders and investors going forward.
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