Art Laffer To Launch ETF Of ETFs?

June 15, 2009

Claymore filing for active ETFs also includes a muni fund and a commodities fund.


Claymore Advisors has filed an exemptive relief request with the Securities & Exchange Commission to launch a trio of actively managed exchange-traded funds, including one that will be managed by Art Laffer’s economics consulting firm, Laffer Associates.

An exemptive relief request asks the SEC to “exempt” a company from certain features of the Investment Company Act of 1940, which governs the issuance of mutual funds (including ETFs). ETF companies must receive these exemptions before they can file prospectuses or proceed toward launch.

The Claymore filing covers three actively managed ETFs:

  • Claymore/S&P Commodity Trends Strategy ETF
  • Claymore Active National Municipal ETF
  • Claymore Laffer MacroEconomic Global Equity ETF has reported previously on the Commodity Trends Strategy ETF. The fund will technically be an active ETF, although its sole goal will be to replicate the S&P Commodity Trends Indicator, a long/short index covering the commodity futures markets.

The Active National Municipal ETF, not previously reported, will seek to outperform the Barclays Capital 7-Year Municipal Bond Index through a traditional bottom-up investment strategy.

The real headline from the filing, however, is the Laffer Macro Economic Global Equity ETF. The fund will be an “ETF of ETFs,” holding a portfolio of single-country ETFs that represent the “the most undervalued equity markets around the world,” according to the fund’s subadviser, Laffer Associates. Laffer Associates is the economics consulting firm founded by famous supply-side economist Art Laffer.

According to the filing, Laffer Associates uses “proprietary multi-factor modeling which combines quantitative analysis of a country's actual exchange rates, fiscal policies, and global economic environment together with qualitative analysis of a country's expected exchange rates, fiscal policies, and global economic environment” to select the most attractive countries.

Countries are then analyzed for “special situations such as trade disputes, military conflicts, political instability and supply/demand interruptions.”

The top 12-16 countries based on this analysis will be held in the ETF, which will be rebalanced regularly.

There is no guarantee that the SEC will grant the required exemptive relief, or that Claymore will launch the ETF even if it does. Still, it’s an interesting development.

So far, those actively managed ETFs that have launched have yet to attract significant assets. Part of the reason is that most actively managed products are sold either on commission or based on historical track records. Since new active ETFs cannot be sold on commission and, by definition, come to market with no track record, they have had a hard time finding an immediate audience.

By linking up with a big-name economist like Art Laffer, a fund like Claymore proposes might break through the noise.

The filing is available here.


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