1. Mutual funds panic: Time to buy ETFs?
The ETF business still has a long way to go if it's going to overtake the mutual fund industry, which if you include money market funds has more than $15 trillion in assets. Numbers tell the story: $15 trillion vs. $2 trillion seems like a vast difference, but don't kid yourself. The growth is on the side of ETFs. ETFs and exchange-traded notes (ETNs) had twice the inflows of mutual funds last year.
Money is going out of mutual funds and into ETFs due to a lower cost structure and the inability of almost all active funds to outperform indexes. That means less money for mutual fund companies.
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Here's a bigger problem: The ETF business is dominated by four players (BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street and Invesco PowerShares) who control 90 percent of all the assets under management.
That poses a real problem for those asset managers and mutual funds who see the ETF train leaving the station without them on it. They need to get in, and I predict many will likely seek to buy an existing manager rather than start from scratch. It started last year, when New York Life purchased IndexIQ and Janus purchased Velocity Shares.
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Who is a potential buyer of ETFs? My guess would be Franklin Templeton or Fidelity. You may even see non-U.S. companies, like Skandia or HSBC or Societe Generale, jump in.
And don't be surprised if a big famous asset manager like Mario Gabelli or John Calamos does something.