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Here Comes the Next Financial Crisis

|Includes: iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM), TBT

 We are gathering a head of steam towards our next financial crisis, even before the current ones are solved. The perpetrator will be new financial product du jour, the super leveraged Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s), which are being created at a breakneck rate, sucking in billions of dollars from investors. ProShares has filed for 94 funds, which offer traders 300% long or short plays in markets as diverse as the Russell 1000 Index, the MSCI Malaysia Index, and the Nikkei 225 stock average. Direxion has gathered $3.4 billion with 16 different 3X funds launched since November. There are now more than 800 ETF’s, and I have been a big fan of  those for emerging markets (NYSEARCA:EEM) and short Treasuries (NYSEARCA:TBT), which allow investors to take positions in niche sectors and foreign markets which are otherwise difficult or expensive to get into. These also allow mutual funds the only means to go short, and include tax advantages and hedging opportunities. But the leveraged versions include risks that most buyers don’t fully understand, even if they parse through the voluminous prospecti with a magnifying class. They promise their triple tracking only for the day you buy it. Beyond that, the tracking error can be huge. The mechanics of these funds force them to be buyers of every rally and sellers of every dip. Over time, leveraged short funds can actually suffer large losses, even in falling markets, and vice versa. It is just a matter of time before one of these goes to zero, wiping out investors. They are already being blamed for an increase in market volatility in the last hour of trading. Gaming sector ETF’s has become the new blood sport for nimble hedge funds. You can expect a replay of a movie you’ve seen before. At the first sign of trouble, liquidity will disappear, auditors will mark them down to nothing, and suddenly the whole world will be for sale. Sound familiar? You have been warned!