Inverse ETFs: Hedge Against and Profit From Market Declines



Inverse exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are a type of investment that allows you to profit from declines in the markets. Inverse ETFs are a good tool to have in your arsenal, but it's important to understand how they work before using them. In this blog post, we'll explain what inverse ETFs are and how to use them. We'll also touch on some of the risks associated with inverse ETFs.


What Are Inverse ETFs?

Inverse ETFs are designed to provide investors with the opportunity to profit from market declines. They do this by tracking an index or security in the opposite direction. For example, if the S&P 500 index falls by 1%, an inverse ETF that tracks the S&P 500 would rise by 1%. Inverse ETFs can be used to hedge against market declines or to speculate on market movements.


How Inverse ETFs Work

In order to achieve their goal of moving opposite of their benchmark, inverse ETFs use a variety of investment strategies. The most common strategy is short selling, which involves selling securities that are not owned by the fund and hoping to buy them back at a lower price so that the difference can be pocketed as profit. Inverse ETFs also use derivatives, such as options and futures contracts, to achieve their desired results.


Derivatives are financial instruments whose value is derived from an underlying asset. For example, an options contract gives the holder the right—but not the obligation—to buy or sell an underlying asset at a set price within a certain time period. If the price of the underlying asset moves in the desired direction, the option will increase in value and can be sold for a profit.


Futures contracts are similar to options contracts in that they are derivative instruments whose value is based on an underlying asset. However, unlike options contracts, futures contracts obligate both parties to buy or sell the underlying asset at a set price on a set date in the future.


How to Use Inverse ETFs

There are a few different ways that investors can use inverse ETFs:

  • Hedging: One way is to use them as a hedge against market declines. This means that if you're worried about a particular stock or the overall market declining, you can purchase an inverse ETF to offset some of those losses.

  • Trend speculation: Another way to use inverse ETFs is to speculate on market movements. This means that if you think a particular stock or the overall market is going to decline, you can purchase an inverse ETF in order to profit from that decline.


Inverse ETFs Best Practices

Investors should be extra cautious with inverse ETFs because of the many risks associated with them (discussed below). Here are some best practices to be aware of:

  • Hold for the short-term: Inverse ETFs are best-suited for short-term trades. Avoid holding them in your portfolio for an extended period of time.

  • Be aware of your position size: Avoid buying a significant amount of inverse ETFs as a percentage of your portfolio because their prices can quickly move against you.

  • Be aware of the leverage used: Inverse ETFs often use leverage to amplify their returns. For example, a 3x levered inverse ETF will move three times as much as its underlying index. If the index declines by 1%, then the inverse ETF will increase by 3%. This can be dangerous because your losses will be amplified if the inverse ETF moves against you.


Risks Associated with Inverse ETFs

There are a few risks associated with inverse ETFs that investors should be aware of before investing:

  • Volatility: Inverse ETFs tend to be more volatile than traditional investments. This means that they can lose money quickly if the markets move against them.

  • High expense ratios: Inverse ETFs often have higher expense ratios than traditional investments. This means that they will eat into your profits more than traditional investments will.

  • Liquidity: Inverse ETFs often have less liquidity than traditional investments. This means that it may be difficult to sell your shares when you want or need to.

  • Leverage: As discussed above, leverage amplifies both your returns and losses. If a leveraged inverse ETF moves against you, you could incur significant losses.


How alphaAI Uses Inverse ETFs

When used properly, inverse ETFs can significantly enhance a strategy’s results. However, we understand that not everyone has the expertise to do so. If you are interested in inverse ETFs but would rather let the experts handle it, you’ve come to the right place.


Here are some examples of how we use inverse ETFs in our strategies:

  • Tactical Long-Short Strategies (TLSS): When market conditions are poor, our TLSS gain exposure to an inverse ETF to hedge against and profit from market declines

  • Absolute Return Strategies (ARS): Our ARS have a persistent long-short exposure, which enables positive returns to be achieved regardless of market conditions. Short exposure is gained through an inverse ETFs

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