Every time there is a bout of volatility, the financial media, and inevitably a few market analysts, forecast that ETFs may be at the center of the next flare up. Yet for the most part, ETFs have held up very well to periods of turmoil. Despite this solid performance though, the creeping logic that they might have a problem lingers. The Financial Times has just posted an article which argues that just as ETFs have managed to magnify the rise in equities, they will also exacerbate the fall. Since so many assets are now in passive funds, the risk of a herd mentality—with all investors having similar stop-loss orders—leading to a big selloff seems likely. Further, since there are fewer active managers playing the role of contrarians as the market falls, who is going to be there to insulate the market when it begins to tumble?
FINSUM: The ETF structure has proven itself quite resilient so far. We are not saying there won’t be a problem, but we feel like the underlying problem in the next meltdown might not have to do with ETFs themselves, rather it may just be magnified by them.