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UK BoE: synthetic ETFs are “opaque”
17 July 2012
A Bank of England report highlights the risks of synthetic ETFs but fails to mention physical ETFs
Bank of England
Synthetic exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are “opaque” and may increase stress in the financial system, according to the Bank of England’s June report on financial stability.
As well as synthetic ETFs, the report also noted collateral swaps, structured notes and bilateral term repos as opaque.
The report said these instruments “may amplify stress within the financial system, by acting as drains on collateral or liquidity”. However, physical-backed ETFs are not mentioned in the report despite recent concerns over the securities lending activity in many of those funds.
An un-named source who is an expert in the ETF industry said: "Although ETFs are and have been some of the most transparent products and made more information available after the IMF, BIS and FSB reports a year ago, this report repeats some of last year’s criticisms of synthetic ETFs."
At last week’s Global Investor/ISF Synthetic Finance Summit in London, one panellist said he thought it “strange” to see calls for transparency in synthetic ETFs.