Market structures and systemic risks of exchange-traded funds

BIS Working Papers  |  No 343  | 
13 April 2011


Crisis experience has shown that as the financial intermediation chain lengthens, it becomes complicated to assess the risks of financial products due to a lack of transparency as to how risks are managed at different levels of the intermediation chain. Exchange-traded funds, which have become popular among investors seeking exposure to a diversified portfolio of assets, share this characteristic, especially when their returns are replicated using derivative products. As the volume of such products grows, such replication strategies can lead to a build-up of systemic risks in the financial system. This article examines the operational frameworks of exchange-traded funds and identifies potential channels through which risks to financial stability can materialise.

JEL Classification: G24, G28, G32

Keywords: Mutual funds, total return swaps, securities lending, systemic risk