SEC to Investigate Seesawing Credit Suisse TVIX Note

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing the VelocityShares 2x Daily VIX Short Term Exchange Traded Note (TVIX) that collapsed last week, right after it climbing nearly 90% beyond its asset value. The drop came not long after Credit Suisse stopped issuing shares last month. Now, the Switzerland-based investment bank says it will start creating more shares.

Also known as TVIX, the VelocityShares 2x Daily VIX Short Term Exchange Traded Note is an exchanged-traded note that seeks to provide two times the daily return of the VIX volatility index. With the note’s value hitting nearly $700 million up from where it was at approximately $163 million in 2011 and now crashing down, The TVIX has taken investors for quite the ride.

Investor advocates are saying that more should be done to protect retail investors. There is growing concern that with the rising popularity of ETNs, investors and financial advisers are getting into these products without fully understanding them or the risks involved. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has said that it too will look into the “events and trading activity” that led to the collapse of the TVIX note.

Exchange-Traded Notes
ETN’s are bank-issued debt securities. They were first brought to market six years ago to allow sophisticated investors to place bets on different parts of the market. Recently, however, retail investors have also started trading ETNs to gain access to certain market segments, such as those involving gold, silver, or natural gas. ETN offerings have grown in number over the past few years, with 212 ETNs now found on exchanges.

Unlike ETFs (exchange-traded funds), ETNs are not investment portfolios. They are contracts involving issuers that have agreed to pay investors returns equivalent to the investments being tracked.

ETNs issue unsecured securities that promise delivery of an index’s return. The issuer usually uses derivatives connected to the index to cover their shareholder obligations. When an issuer cannot pay back the note, however, it is the investors that lose money.

An issuer may also choose to stop making or redeeming shares, which can cause the ETN to unhinge from the index or security it is supposed to track. Also, the notes are usually pegged to bonds, stocks, indexes, and other underlying assets, which means sponsord can redeem or create shares to offset distortions in price that can occur when investors sell and buy them.

The swaying price of the VelocityShares ETN shows the risks that can be created by the disruptions in their demand and supply. When Credit Suisse stopped putting out new shares, the divide between the price of the security and the value of the index it was tracking got even bigger, which lead to a supply shortage even as there continued to be a record demand for volatility products that provide a hedge to counter losses on US equities.

If you suffered losses from the TVX or another ETN and you believe that the investment may not have been an appropriate one for you, do not hesitate to contact our stockbroker fraud lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD, LLP today.

SEC Said to Review Credit Suisse VIX Note, Bloomberg/Businessweek, March 29, 2012
FINRA investigating exchange-traded, Reuters, March 29, 2012

More Blog Posts:

Ex-Credit Suisse Broker Butler Gets Five-Year Prison Sentence, Bloomberg, January 23, 2010
Ex-Credit Suisse broker guilty in $1B scheme, NY Daily News, August 17, 2009
Two Ex-Credit Suisse Executives Plead Guilty to Mortgage-Backed Securities Fraud, Institutional Investor Securities Fraud, February 7, 2012

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