The Differences Between ETFs and CEFs

Physician's Money Digest, December 2005, Volume 12, Issue 16

Although some investors considerclosed-end funds (CEFs) a subset ofexchange-traded funds (ETFs) and evenconfuse the two different types, there aresome differences that should not be overlooked.According to the Wall StreetJournal, although both ETFs and CEFs representsecurities like stocks that trade onan exchange, ETFs are more similar toindex-tracking funds, while CEFs areactively managed and tend to have higherexpense ration. What's more, the reasonthat CEFs can trade at big premiums ordiscounts is because these funds have aset number of shares that cannot be createdor redeemed beyond its initial publicoffering, which is not the case with ETFs.But CEFs are not the only funds that offerdiscounts. Those ETFs that trade in moreilliquid markets—single country stocksand small stocks—do sometimes trade ata discount, typically not more than 1% ofits net asset value. If investing in internationalfunds interests you, keep in mindthat not all countries have both an ETF anda CEF. In fact, according to TheStreet.com,the institutional buying associated withETFs, which eliminates discounts and premiums,may disrupt less developed exchanges,especially in smaller countries.The result? Ireland is only representedby the New Ireland Fund (NYSE: IRL), aCEF, and it has yet to reap the benefits ofan ETF.