Summer ETF Launch Drought Lingers

New funds have been few and scattered during the summer of 2019.

Reviewed by: Heather Bell
Edited by: Heather Bell

By all appearances we are experiencing a bit of a summer dry spell in terms of ETF launches, with just 35 ETFs launching from June 1 through Aug. 21. To put that in perspective, 63 ETFs launched during the same time period last year.

And that’s a far cry from five years ago, in 2015, when a whopping 88 ETFs launched during the designated period.

Long Lull Since Last Launch

Also of note was a current 20-day gap between ETF launches this month. Not a single ETF rolled out after Aug. 1, when Innovator debuted three of its defined outcome products. Then, Aug. 20, First Trust launched a carbon impact ETF.

That appears to be the largest gap between ETF launches by several days during the last five years at least.

There have been 148 ETF launches so far this year, versus 169 launches by this point in 2018.

At the same time, ETF closures have maintained a pretty steady pace. They are trailing the record levels seen last year, but that is largely due to the unprecedented closure of 50 iPath ETNs by Barclays in April 2018. This year has logged 88 closures so far, while last year had recorded 124 ETF shutdowns during the same time period.

Either way, the pace of both closures and launches suggests the ETF industry is reaching a new stage in its maturity.

Contact Heather Bell at [email protected]

Heather Bell is a former managing editor of She has also held editorial positions at Dow Jones Indexes and Lehman Brothers. Bell is a graduate of Dartmouth college and resides in the Denver area with her two dogs.