A Guide About Hedging with ETFs: A Cost-Effective Alternative

Oct 10, 2023 By Triston Martin

ETFs that trade on exchanges (ETFs) attract people of every size, and their selection and applications are constantly changing. Those who are brand unfamiliar with ETFs might think they are utilized to replace mutual funds; however, the applications for ETFs are expanding beyond investing in managed funds. Investors who have experienced Hedging with ETFs: A Cost-Effective Alternative are well-known for their ability to invest in different asset classes such as bonds, stocks, and real estate, as well as commodities. However, their use of hedges is becoming more commonplace. In reality, one of the significant benefits of ETFs to hedge is in their names; they are traded on active exchanges, making them more flexible and liquid as compared to mutual funds. This article will look at how ETFs can be utilized for hedges.

The Advantages of ETFs For Hedge

The advantages that an ETF can bring to hedges are many. Most important is the efficiency of costs since ETFs permit small investors to invest with minimal or no entry fees. They generally have low management or holding fees compared to the total cost of physical deliveries or commissions for futures and options. They also give market access (like the currency market), which isn't affordable for investors on a budget, liquidity above the levels found in options and futures, lower bid/ask spreads and the possibility of quickly trading on exchanges for stocks. ETF hedges provide additional market liquidity, better "look at" transparency, and eliminate the risk of the counterparty in the over-the-counter contract between two entities.

Hedging The Stock Market

Most investors use options and futures in the bond and stock market to hedge their positions or make short-term investments to exit or enter the market. The most popular and traded instrument for the equity market is S&P 500 Futures. Large institutions utilize them extensively, including mutual funds, pension funds, and active traders. Today, ETFs such as ProShares Short S&P 500 and ProShares UltraPro S&P 500 can be used as an alternative to futures contracts to purchase short positions on the general market, making these transactions easier to trade, and affordable and fluid.

Although ETFs with short equity are somewhat different from futures, and the matching of hedged positions might differ, the method gives an easy way to access the funds to reach the goal. The works can also be unwound as necessary - unlike contracts for futures that expire regularly and require the investors to either cash out, buy delivery, or re-hedge the contract when it expires.

Hedging Inflation

We have so far covered hedge portfolios that are hedging in the traditional sense. It involves balancing risk that is variable or preserving market positions. Inflation hedging using ETFs incorporates similar concepts. However, it protects against unpredictability and unknown force. While inflation has been fluctuating in small increments throughout history, it can change direction during normal or abnormal economic cycles. Although commodities are an asset class by themselves, many investors are drawn to commodities to protect against inflation. According to the idea, if inflation is rising or is predicted to increase, so will the cost of commodities.

While inflation is rising and other asset classes, such as stocks, might not be experiencing the same increase, investors could participate in promoting commodities investment. ETFs that invest in commodities have gained popularity. There are many ways to gain access to precious minerals, natural resources, and virtually every entity traded on an exchange.

Hedging Currencies

Like the hedging of equity markets, before the widespread acceptance of ETFs, the sole method of the hedge the risk of a non-U.S. purchase was to utilize options, currency forward contracts, or futures. The forward contracts aren't usually accessible to individuals, as they typically are contracts with large corporations that are traded on the exchange.

Like interest rate swaps, the forward contracts also allow one side to take on the risk of taking a long position and the other partner to take the risk of a short place in the currency to compare their specific needs to betting or hedging. Through design, the parties do not typically receive physical delivery of their current position and opt to pay the final value following the closing exchange rate. There is no money transferred throughout the term of the forward contract, which is often valued depending on the change in the value of the swap or kept at cost.

Similar to futures and options on the bond and equity markets, the accuracy levels when it comes to matching the portfolio's value with the position hedged are up to the individual investor. With the ease of use of ETFs and the fact (unlike Futures or options) that ETFs do not expire, investors can make changes as required.


The advantages that an ETF can bring to hedge funds are many. The most important is the cost-effectiveness in that ETFs permit investors to buy positions for small or no entry fees (commissions). Furthermore, because ETFs trade similarly to stocks, buying and selling shares is easy for most individuals. Finally, ETFs cover many markets and bonds, including commodities, supplies, and stores.

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