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Exchange Traded Funds: A New Investment Option for Taxable Investors

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  • James M. Poterba
  • John B. Shoven

Abstract

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are a new variety of mutual fund that first became available in 1993. ETFs have grown rapidly and now hold nearly $80 billion in assets. ETFs are sometimes described as more 'tax efficient' than traditional equity mutual funds, since in recent years, some large ETFs have made smaller distributions of realized and taxable capital gains than most mutual funds. This paper provides an introduction to the operation of exchange traded funds. It also compares the pre-tax and post-tax returns on the largest ETF, the SPDR trust that invests in the S&P500, with the returns on the largest equity index fund, the Vanguard Index 500. The results suggest that between 1994 and 2000, the before- and after-tax returns on the SPDR trust and this mutual fund were very similar. Both the after-tax and the pre-tax returns on the fund were slightly greater than those on the ETF. These findings suggest that ETFs offer taxable investors a method of holding broad baskets of stocks that deliver returns comparable to those of low-cost index funds.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8781.

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Date of creation: Feb 2002
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Publication status: published as Poterba, Jaems M. and John B. Shoven. "Exchange-Traded Funds: A New Investment Option For Taxable Investors," American Economic Review, 2002, v92(2,May), 422-427.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8781

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  1. Joel M. Dickson & John B. Shoven, 1995. "Taxation and Mutual Funds: An Investor Perspective," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 9, pages 151-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Daniel Bergstresser & James Poterba, 2000. "Do After-Tax Returns Affect Mutual Fund Inflows?," NBER Working Papers 7595, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John B. Shoven & Joel Dickson & Clemens Sialm, 2000. "Tax Externalities of Equity Mutual Funds," NBER Working Papers 7669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Edwin J. Elton, 2002. "Spiders: Where Are the Bugs?," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75(3), pages 453-472, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Blitz, David & Huij, Joop, 2012. "Evaluating the performance of global emerging markets equity exchange-traded funds," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 149-158.
  2. Gallmeyer, Michael F. & Kaniel, Ron & Tompaidis, Stathis, 2006. "Tax management strategies with multiple risky assets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 243-291, May.
  3. Chen, Honghui & Morse, Joel N. & Nguyen, Hoang Huy, 2009. "Changes in the liquidity of closed-end country funds after the introduction of World Equity Benchmarks," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 1081-1094, August.
  4. Tugkan Tuzun, 2013. "Are leveraged and inverse ETFs the new portfolio insurers?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-48, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Li, Mingsheng & Zhao, Xin, 2014. "Impact of leveraged ETF trading on the market quality of component stocks," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 90-108.
  6. Shin, Sangheon & Soydemir, Gökçe, 2010. "Exchange-traded funds, persistence in tracking errors and information dissemination," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 20(4-5), pages 214-234, December.
  7. Laura Andreu & Laurens Swinkels & Liam Tjong-A-Tjoe, 2013. "Can exchange traded funds be used to exploit industry and country momentum?," Financial Markets and Portfolio Management, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 127-148, June.
  8. Alexander, C. & Barbosa, A., 2008. "Hedging index exchange traded funds," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 326-337, February.
  9. Boehmer, Beatrice & Boehmer, Ekkehart, 2003. "Trading your neighbor's ETFs: Competition or fragmentation?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(9), pages 1667-1703, September.
  10. Harper, Joel T. & Madura, Jeff & Schnusenberg, Oliver, 2006. "Performance comparison between exchange-traded funds and closed-end country funds," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 104-122, April.
  11. M. Barari & Brian Lucey & S. Voronkova, 2008. "Reassessing co-movements among G7 equity markets: evidence from iShares," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(11), pages 863-877.
  12. Huang, Mei-Yueh & Lin, Jun-Biao, 2011. "Do ETFs provide effective international diversification?," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 335-344, September.
  13. Agapova, Anna, 2011. "Conventional mutual index funds versus exchange-traded funds," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 323-343, May.
  14. Woodrow T. Johnson & James M. Poterba, 2008. "Taxes and Mutual Fund Inflows Around Distribution Dates," NBER Working Papers 13884, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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