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SEC Under Pressure Regarding JOBS Act Provisions

According to InvestmentNews, the SEC is being asked to abandon their new rules allowing hedge funds and other private placements to actively advertise to investors. We've discussed these issues before, as we think this could mark a significant change in how the public views this highly opaque and unregulated market. From the article:

Critics assert that the SEC proposed rule on private-fund advertising was too vague and would hurt investors by allowing them to be lured in by slick sales...

Do ETF Flows Move the Market?

As exchange-traded fund (ETF) flows have grown over the past few years, the question of whether those fund flows influence the prices of ETF holdings has become a perennial issue. Matt Jarzemsky and Chris Dieterich of the Wall Street Journal recently posted what is perhaps the highest profile discussion of this issue to date, in which they provide interesting evidence that the ETF 'tail' might be wagging the market 'dog.'

They note that in early October, mid-cap indexes saw...

Vanguard Abandons MSCI and MSCI's Share Price Crashes

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Vanguard is replacing the benchmarks on nearly two dozen of its index funds currently provided by MSCI and replacing them with benchmarks provided by either FTSE or the Center For Research In Security Prices (CRSP) at the University of Chicago. See the press release dated October 2, 2012.

This is clearly great news for FTSE since this index change by Vanguard makes them the "third-largest equity exchange traded product index benchmark...

As New ETFs Come and Go, Big Ones Remain Big

A recent Seeking Alpha article argues that with six new ETFs coming into the market and 18 being closed or redeemed, the past August signaled the beginning of a consolidation process in the ETF industry. There are good reasons to believe the author is right: with ETF issuers rolling out more and more ETFs each month, those having failed to catch investors' eyes quick enough are bound to disappear with the ever-intensifying competition. On the other hand, it also got us curious: what about...

The JOBS Act and Private Placements [UPDATE]

Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that the SEC has proposed removing the restriction on general solicitation of hedge funds and other private placement investments as required by the JOBS Act of 2012. Last week we blogged about the implications of this action, and at that time there was concern that the SEC would impose further restrictions that would dampen the effects of the law. It now appears that the SEC will not impose any additional regulations.


ETFs in Mutual Funds: a Raw Deal?

Ian Salisbury at SmartMoney raises an interesting point:

The whole point of actively run funds, their proponents say, is that a living, breathing fund manager has a better chance of sussing out great investment opportunities than an exchange-traded fund, which just blindly tracks an index. Indeed, that's one of the reasons actively managed funds have higher fees than ETFs -- to pay for all that expert guidance.
So it might come as a shock to some investors that the top holdings of several...

The JOBS Act and Private Placements

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act (PDF) that was enacted this past April was ostensibly designed to increase investment opportunities by relaxing certain regulatory requirements on small businesses. There are several excellent reviews of the provisions of the JOBS Act, which not surprisingly is a lengthy and impenetrable document, and there has been considerable debate between proponents, who argue that increased investment opportunities can help support new business ventures...

Mutual Fund and ETF Issuers Competing on Fees

In March, we posted a graph of the returns and fees of the 25 largest funds by net assets and called attention to the striking difference in fees between funds offered by the Vanguard Group and those offered by American Funds. While both had very similar 5-year annualized total returns, the Vanguard funds had significantly lower fees.

Today the Wall Street Journal ran an article about how Vanguard's funds have attracted net inflows of $452 billion from January 2008 to June 2012, while...

Hedge Fund "Side Pockets" Explained

Hedge funds can be extremely complicated investments, and one of the features that contributes to their lack of transparency is their so called 'side pocket' accounts. Side pockets have drawn scrutiny from the SEC and have been the subject of high profile investigations (see also) due to their potential for abuse from hedge fund managers eager to hide losses from investors.

Side pockets are essentially separate accounts that a hedge fund may use to separate illiquid or thinly traded assets...

Buffered and Capped Closed-End Funds

Last Friday the Wall Street Journal reported on a new product which combines features of both structured notes and closed-end funds. The eUnit 2 Year US Market Participation Trust IIwas first issued by Boston-based investment company Eaton Vance on May 30. This was the second offering by Eaton Vance of such a product: the first trust with identical name debuted on Jan 26.

Inessence, the eUnit Trust is like a structured note with capped upside potential and buffered downside loss. At the end...

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