Think You’re An ETF Expert?

by on September 9, 2013 | ETFs Mentioned:

It is an undeniable fact that the ETF industry has certainly come a long way since the first ever ETF hit the streets in 1993. With over 1,400 products to choose from, investors can now easily and cost-effectively tailor exposure to nearly every corner of the investable universe. From plain vanilla funds to ETPs that utilize more complex strategies, there is sure to be a perfect fit for every investment objective [see also How To Pick The Right ETF Every Time].

And as the industry continues to grow, ETF investors have also become more ETF Triviaknowledgeable. For those of you who believe you’ve become an ETF expert over the years, test your knowledge with a few intriguing ETF trivia questions (click on the buttons below to see answers):

  1. On average, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY, A) has accumulated how much in assets every week since it launched in 1993?
  2. SPY was the first ETF on the U.S. market, what was the second?
  3. How much does the MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM, A-) generate in management fees every day?
  4. How many ETFs delivered positive returns in 2008?
  5. The biggest ETF loser in 2008 was …
  6. This ETF saw the largest inflows in 2012.
  7. From 2008 to 2012, which year saw the most ETF closures?
  8. Conversely, from 1993 to 2012, which year saw the most ETF launches?
  9. Which popular ETF has never had a negative annual return (calendar year)?
  10. Which of these ETF issuers no longer exist: RevenueShares, FactorShares, IndexIQ, Rydex, Huntington, FlexShares.


SPYOn average, the legendary SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY, A) has accumulated roughly $126.6 million in assets under management each week since its inception in 1993. Per day, that’s approximately $18 million of inflows, or $750,00 per hour or $12,500 per minute [see also The Complete History of the SPY]. 


state-streetRoughly two years after the S&P 500 ETF  (SPY, A) made its debut in 1993, State Street launched the second ETF, its MidCap SPDR ETF (MDY, B), in April of 1995. The fund, which seeks to replicate the performance of the S&P MidCap 400 Index, has accumulated over $13 billion in assets and trades roughly 2.2 million times a day, making it one of the most popular funds on the market [see Brief History of ETFs]. 


Management FeeEveryday, iShares generates roughly $650K in management fees from its MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM, A-). If you are only counting trading days, that’s roughly $952K in fees per day.

If iShares were to charge just 1 basis point more (from 0.67% to 0.68%), that would total $965K in management fees per trading day, a difference of nearly $14K a day. 


Only 33 ETFs delivered positive returns in 2008 (excluding leveraged and inverse funds). The top performers were [see The Best (And Worst Performing ETFs For Every Quarter]:Treasury

  • Barclays 20 Year Treasury Bond Fund (TLT, B), 32%
  • SPDR Barclays Long Term Treasury ETF (TLO, B), 23%
  • JPY/USD Exchange Rate ETN (JYN, C), 21%
  • CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust (FXY, C+), 21%
  • 1-30 Treasury Ladder Portfolio (PLW, B-), 20%



RussiaThe biggest ETF loser in 2008 (excluding leveraged and inverse funds) was the Market Vectors Russia ETF (RSX, B), which lost a whopping 74%. Some of the other biggest losers were:

  • WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio (PBW, B-), -69%
  • MSCI India Index ETN (INP, C), -67%
  • Listed Private Equity (PSP, B+), -66%
  • SPDR S&P Emerging Europe ETF (GUR, A-), – 66%
  • MSCI Austria ETF (EWO, B), -64%


InflowsIn 2012, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY, A) saw the largest inflows in 2012, which totaled $15.77 billion. Both the FTSE Emerging Markets ETF  (VWO, A) and the MSCI Emerging Markets ETF  (EEM, A-) also saw inflows totalling over $10 billion, while the iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond Fund (LQD, A-) and the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD, A) raked in more than $5 billion. 


closed-sign2012 saw the most ETF closures, with 102 funds taken off the market during the year. 2012′s closures nearly doubled those of 2008, which saw roughly 58 funds close. 2011 saw the least closures, with only 38 ETFs closing their doors  [see 10 Questions About ETFs You've Been Too Afraid To Ask]. 


Launches2011 saw the most ETF launches, with a record-breaking 309 new funds hitting the market. 2010, however also saw a slew of new product launches, with over 240 new ETFs making their debut. In 2012, ETF issuers seemingly took somewhat of a breather, launching 166 new products – a significant decline from the year prior [For a full list of ETF launches and closures, visit our ETF Launch Center]. 


GoldThe SPDR Gold Trust (GLD, A) has not had a single negative annual return between its first full year of trading in 2005 and 2012 (see chart below). The fund also holds the title as the oldest U.S.-listed commodity ETF as well as the most heavily traded U.S.-listed ETF, with shares exchanging hands nearly 8.4 million times a day [see also The Complete History of GLD].


ChoosingGiven that the ETF industry is still relatively young, it is perhaps not surprising to see several issuers forced to close their doors. Of the issuers listed, Rydex no longer offers ETPs on U.S. exchanges. Rydex, which was known for its lineup of equal-weighted equity ETFs, became rebranded under the parent company Guggenheim in 2011. Other issuers that have closed include KraneShares, FaithShares, and Javelin Funds.

To learn more about the ETF industry, be sure to use the suite of free tools at, including the ETFdb CategoriesETF screener and the ETF Analyzer.

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.