New Leveraged Oil Fund Replacement Coming

November 30, 2016

When Credit Suisse announced recently the de facto closure of the VelocityShares 3x and -3x oil funds, VelocityShares 3x Long Crude Oil ETN (UWTI) and VelocityShares 3X Inverse Crude Oil ETN (DWTI), the market greeted the news with a bit of a lament.

With well over $1 billion in the pair, the funds clearly had a place in investors’ (or at least speculators’) hearts.

As our Sumit Roy covered, you have some immediate alternatives, such as the ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil (UCO), a 2x version, and two Direxion funds, the Direxion Daily Energy Bull 3x Shares (ERX) and the Direxion Daily Energy Bear 3x Shares (ERY), which provide exposure to energy stocks within the S&P 500.

But if you’re really craving the juice, US Commodity Funds has you covered. The issuer filed last night for a United States 3x Oil Fund. USCF already runs the most popular crude oil ETF in the land, the United States Oil Fund (USO), with over $3.4 billion in assets.

Here’s why the USCF filing is interesting …

There’s No SEC Risk

The leveraged and inverse fund industry is under intense scrutiny, and the SEC filed preliminary rulemaking earlier this year that could put significant restrictions on the amount of derivatives—and thus leverage—held in ’40 Act mutual funds and ETFs.

But like USO (and the competitive levered oil fund, the ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil ETF, UCO), the new 3x fund won’t be regulated by the ’40 Act. Instead, it will be a commodity pool, which is regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

So while 3x leveraged S&P 500 funds may face a tough 2017, if you stick to futures-based exposures, like commodities and volatility, the SEC is going to stay out of it.

Is there some risk the CFTC decides to start paying attention? It’s unlikely. The CFTC is down to three commissioners, which means that they are literally unable to talk to each other in the hallways because of “sunlight” rule provisions that prevent private meetings of a majority. The idea that a revamp of the very structure of a commodity pool could make it onto the regulatory agenda strikes me as unlikely.


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