THE PERFORMANCE OF LEVERAGED AND INVERSE LEVERAGED EXCHANGE-TRADED FUNDS
Brian J. Henderson and Gerald W. Buetow
We document significant abnormal daily returns to leveraged and inverse leveraged exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Abnormal returns are positive for leveraged funds and negative to inverse leveraged funds, and the magnitude increases in the absolute value of the leverage multiple. We propose and test a model linking the abnormal return performance to transactions costs associated with the frequent (daily) rebalancing necessary to maintain target exposures as well as other costs including the swap financing costs and the cost to borrow in the lending market. In the full cross-section, the results suggest funding costs associated with achieving leverage impact returns negatively (positively) for leveraged (inverse leveraged) funds. Capitalizing on a key institutional feature, analysis of pairs of mirror funds reveals transactions costs associated with the maintenance of daily leverage multiples meaningfully impact fund returns. The results are also consistent with inverse leveraged funds bearing the cost-to-borrow to the benefit of the leveraged (long) funds.