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# Investing in Leveraged ETFs – Running With Scissors

On the surface, leveraged and inverse ETFs seem straight forward.  But, they can be like one of those math brain-teasers that stump even the brightest people.

### Leveraged ETFs

Leveraged ETFs are funds designed to seek a daily investment result that is a multiple of a benchmark index.  For example, a triple leveraged ETF would yield about 300% of the gain (or -300% loss on the loss) of the benchmark index for that day.

### Inverse ETFs

Inverse ETFs are funds that seek a daily investment result, opposite of a benchmark index.  For example, an inverse ETF would yield a gain of the same percentage that a benchmark index would lose on a given day.

### Leveraged Inverse ETFs

Leveraged Inverse ETFs are designed to seek a daily investment result that is a multiple opposite of the direction of the benchmark index.  For example, a triple leveraged inverse ETF would yield a gain of about 300% gain on the loss (or -300% loss on the gain) of the benchmark index.

A lot of people think if there is a triple ETF (leveraged etf) on an index and that index goes up by X%, the triple ETF will also rise by three times X%.  Additionally, one might think that if the index goes from \$100 to \$110, a \$100 investment in a triple ETF should go from \$100 to \$130.

It seems simple enough, but that’s not how it works.  A simple math equation helps us understand why leveraged ETFs don’t always give us that sort of performance.

### Lets look at the math of these three ETFs

Triple leveraged ETFs attempt to match three times the daily performance.  “Daily” is the operative word.  The assumption of the stock going from \$100 to \$110 and the triple leveraged ETF going from \$100 to \$130 works only for one day.  Over the course of several days this theory falls apart.

I’ll  demonstrate this with a simple example.  Imagine a stock (XYZ) that’s trading at \$100.  The first day, the stock drops to \$95, a -5% drop.  Let’s consider the triple ETF (+3XYZ) which is also trading at \$100.   The corresponding triple ETF (+3XYZ) drops to:  \$100 + 3 (\$100 x -5%) = \$85.  The corresponding triple inverse ETF -3XYZ goes to:  \$100 – 3 (\$100 x -5%) = \$115

Simple enough.

Now, let’s assume the next day XYZ goes up to \$105.  That is a 10.53% increase.  So, +3XYZ is going to increase by 3 times 10.53%.  That is \$85 + 3 (\$85 x 10.53%) = \$111.84

The next day, X drops back down to \$95, a -9.52% decrease.  Thus, +3XYZ goes from to: \$111.84 + 3 (\$111.84 x -9.52%) = \$79.89.

You might expect that the +3XYZ stock would go back to \$85.  But, it doesn’t.

Here’s a table of how the XYZ stock and the +3XYZ and -3XYZ will respond over several days of XYZ oscillating up and down by \$10.

 XYZ Stock %Change +3X -3X \$   100.00 \$  100.00 \$  100.00 \$     95.00 -5.00% \$    85.00 \$  115.00 \$   105.00 10.53% \$  111.84 \$    78.68 \$     95.00 -9.52% \$    79.89 \$  101.17 \$   105.00 10.53% \$  105.11 \$    69.22 \$     95.00 -9.52% \$    75.08 \$    89.00 \$   105.00 10.53% \$    98.79 \$    60.89 \$     95.00 -9.52% \$    70.57 \$    78.29 \$   105.00 10.53% \$    92.85 \$    53.57 \$     95.00 -9.52% \$    66.32 \$    68.87 \$   105.00 10.53% \$    87.26 \$    47.12 \$     95.00 -9.52% \$    62.33 \$    60.59 \$   105.00 10.53% \$    82.02 \$    41.45 \$     95.00 -9.52% \$    58.58 \$    53.30 \$   105.00 10.53% \$    77.08 \$    36.47 \$     95.00 -9.52% \$    55.06 \$    46.89 \$   105.00 10.53% \$    72.45 \$    32.08 \$     95.00 -9.52% \$    51.75 \$    41.25 \$   105.00 10.53% \$    68.09 \$    28.22 \$  95.00 -9.52% \$    48.63 \$    36.28 \$   105.00 10.53% \$    63.99 \$    24.83 \$     95.00 -9.52% \$    45.71 \$    31.92 \$   105.00 10.53% \$    60.14 \$    21.84

That’s probably not what you would expect.  Here’s the chart:

(This shows the stock falling, but it could also rise more if there were a few up day in the beginning.)

For this reason, the leveraged and inverse ETFs are only designed for intraday trading.  They are not intended to be held for longer than a day.  If you read the prospectus, this is clearly stated.  (Who reads the prospectus?!)  Regulators are taking a closer look at these types of ETFs because people are blowing-up their accounts.

### The Russell 1000 – leveraged, and inverse leveraged ETFs

There is another factor that often escapes investors.  Leveraged ETFs are periodically rebalanced. Here’s a recent example considering two popular leveraged ETFs.  The FAS, which is the 3x ETF of the Russell 1000 Financial Index (RUI), and the FAZ , which is the -3x ETF.  Here are the quotes for a couple days in October 2011.

 10/6/2011 10/7/2011 % Change RUI 642.45 636.65 -0.90% FAS 57.55 52.05 -9.56% FAZ 58.35 63.81 9.36%

You can see that the RUI changed by -0.90% overnight.  You would expect the FAS to change by three times that or be a -2.7% change.  Yet it changed by -9.56%.  That is a huge discrepancy from the 3x it is was supposed to move. Instead it moved by more than 10x.  Coincidentally, the FAZ moved by approximately the same percentage.  If you held the FAS overnight, you would have found your investment down by much more than you would have expected.  This kind of move happens to investors quite often.

What caused that to happen?  Because these ETFs are comprised of complex derivatives (e.g., swaps), they don’t always perform exactly as expected.  To account for that the fund managers did some sort of rebalancing, overnight.  It’s a risk that’s stated in the prospectus.  (I really think you should read the prospectus!)

What does this look like in real life?  Let’s consider investing \$1,000 in each RUI, FAS, and FAZ.  You would expect that the moves in the FAS and the FAZ would cancel each other out.  That is true in the short-term.  But in the long-term – because of “the math” and the re-balancing – it falls apart.

Here’s a chart of those investments.

You see that after two years, the FAS and FAZ are now worth \$1,320, combined – a net loss of \$680.  There were times when the value of both investments was more than \$2,000.

### So here’s what I think

You might say:  a wise investor would have taken profit, earlier.
I would say:  a wise investor wouldn’t have placed the trade in the first place.

Even if you were bullish on the RUI, and only bought the FAS, you didn’t do as well as expected.  The \$1,000 RUI investment would have risen to \$1.343.  The \$1,000 in the FAS only rose to \$1,081.  That is hardly 3X performance.

Leveraged ETFs are not intended to be held for anything longer than a day.  Doing so can result in significant losses, that can come without notice.

If you still doubt me on this, pick up the phone and call the toll free number for companies managing these funds.  (Proshares:  866-776-5125  Direxon 800-851-0511  iShares 800-474-2737.)

Surely, there are people making money holding these ETfs longer than a day.  But, guess what? Some people win money at the casino, too – most people don’t.  My suggestion is that you leave them for the purpose they were designed for – intraday trading.  There may be some options strategies that could work for more than a day.  But, they are unconventional and probably not appropriate for your average options trader.

Eric Hale
OptionsANIMAL Instructor

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Very professional group. Brice Hogan provided excellent pre and post sales support. The instructors are diverse and provide different views on the same subjects which helps me to be thoughtful about the subjects and retain the information. The classes are well laid out and build upon themselves. The community approach provides me with an environment that will foster lifetime learning. This is not the first investment education company but their lifetime membership is an excellent value for my long-term growth. Thank you.
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23:23 08 Nov 18
We have been with Option animal for 7 years plus. They have delivered on all levels. If you want to learn to trade options there is no better education. Make sure you finish all you levels before you start live trading if you don’t your education will cost you more as I learned the hard way . One other point make sure you try to attend as many conference that Option animal puts on you will not be disappointed .Your trading skills will get sharper and most of all you will meet a bunch of great traders
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17:25 11 Sep 18
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19:44 28 Dec 20
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Linda Wood
18:20 04 May 19
DiVerge Fitness
17:35 22 Dec 18
Great service for learning the correct way to trade options.
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18:16 01 Oct 18
This was my first Summit experience and I thought attending was very worthwhile. The programs and materials were helpful and the open session Q&A following the presentations was great. I left with six other OA members contact information to really get into the “community” feeling!
Robin Pfeil
20:47 14 Sep 18
This was a great review of basics, with a substantial amount of more advanced information. It was a solid day of education with very minimal fluff. A worthy use of the time.
16:41 21 Sep 18
I am enjoying my experience with Options Animal. If I can’t get to a live class I can always get the same information from three different instructors in archives. The live forums are very informative from these experienced instructors.When sharing their one transaction they do per week, they always encourage the safe way and give you the step by step process they use.They emphasize the risk to keep you grounded.I enjoy the mid-week and weekly reports they present also.
Howie Agster
19:14 21 May 19
Webinars have great examples of a superb strategy trading options. First in money management and trade adjustments limiting losses. My choice for learning from the best.
Blaine Jones
01:36 25 Jun 19
Options Animal is one of the best, if not the best, educational experience I have ever had. If there were more than 5 stars I would rate them a 10.
prescot willuims
20:44 07 Apr 18
Awesome
Ivan Peytchev
21:44 04 May 19
12:57 05 May 19
thank you - very professional and informative Summit
Steven Hollosi
17:44 26 Jun 20
I have been trading options for several years with some success just as a hobby, when I decided to trade options as a business and a source of a regular income, i searched for an educational platform to enhance my understanding and of the market dynamics when it comes to trading option I discovered Options Animals, called them, confirm that this was an educational focused platform that I could benefit from. The rest is history, I could not be happier with the results and support I received over time. They will teach you on how to enjoy the success rate of 90 plus percent of profitable trading with a thoughtful methodology and a plan of execution.I am sold for life. Keep up the great work everyone.Thank you,Steven Hollosi
oliver fox
03:42 11 Nov 18
OPTIONSANIMAL,OPTIONSANIMAL,OPTIONSANIMAL!!!! the very BEST in options education.-------- the very BEST.
Susan Taylor
15:53 27 Apr 20
Options Animal is a very honest company. They will work with you if you need help.
Zack Simon
18:48 02 Mar 17
Because it's changed my life.
Jim Hores
19:54 10 Jun 19
I found this to be an outstanding program - in-depth knowledge you cannot find anywhere else and the staff is always very supportive. I give it an A++.
Curt Rosemann
17:40 12 Oct 18
By far the best I have found for indepth training and insight as how Options really work. Logical class order. Highly knowledgeable instructors for each element whom can provide detailed answers to any questions.
John W
20:53 28 Jun 19
Brice is very easy to work with and does what he says he will do. Thanks again Brice for the good service
Bailey Pate
00:17 18 Sep 18
OptionsANIMAL has been awesome thus far. Great course material with teachers who are willing to help you through it if it doesn't make sense. A worthwhile investment!
Charlie Gray
23:27 10 Sep 18
I have had a wonderful experience working with the instructors from the community and working with Zack and Warren. What I like most about OA is that when you have a question about any option the instructors are able to answer any question they are well versed and understand the material, also other people from the community sometimes will pitch in and offer some answers. If anybody wants to learn about options The Animal is the way to go. Thanks guys Student Charlie
16:42 07 Feb 20
The lessons are excellent, organized and easy to follow . Can take you from beginning student all the way through "PHD" level options trading. Several instructors to choose from (all good) and each has his/her own style to make learning FUN. The best part is : you become a profitable trader.
Jim Jackman
21:55 07 Apr 21
I have been with options animal for a couple of years now. I was previously trading options with varying degrees of success but with no real understanding of what I was doing and whether or not it made sense. Options animal has given me a grounding that I needed to begin to manage my portfolio and understand the trades that I'm placing. It's training has helped me replace "greed and gambling" with common sense It is giving me an understanding of the options market. All of their instructors are excellent and it is a great virtue that they have and explain different approaches to the same lessons. I always find that I learn best when I review the same materials from different competent sources. Option animal provides that in great measure. In my opinion it is well worth the investment and I continue to look forward to their programs and trading analysis.
Michael Lawrence
22:02 12 Sep 18
Options Animal is an excellent organization. I am very happy that I have found them. The website is wonderful and easy to navigate. Options are a complex instrument and they certainly know a great deal about their subject matter. Greg, Jeff, and Casey, as well as the other members of the company are all warm, kind, funny, helpful and extremely intelligent. Options Animal is a solid organization. I am very excited to move toward a complete understanding of options. I hope to grow along with their company in the future. I would give them a stellar review.
Mark Zimmerman Sr
20:32 07 Sep 18
If you want to learn options this is where you will lean it! Great education, even better support
Jerry Boatman
03:10 21 Dec 19
Fantastic Training that you can do at your own pace.
john kraus
19:00 13 Nov 18
The experience and information have been outstanding thus far. I insist on thorough coverage when it comes to my interests and pursuits. OptionsAnimal are meeting and exceeding my expectations. The personel are very supportive as well. So far, i have interacted with Brice, Jordan and Warren. All of them were flawless in their professionalism and very personable as well. i never felt rushed in my inquiries and they efficiently offered complete and even comprehensive answers, making sure i understood what i was trying to learn. Thank you!! so far so good!John Kraus
Nag Malluru
16:16 09 May 19
I like the education that OA provides and it is really interesting to see all these strategies in real world. I am seeing the difference already and excited to be part of this.Community and Live tabs are amazing and helps us to stay connected with the schedule and other member thoughts etc.
Edith Falls
18:48 10 Dec 18
Karen Berliner
21:15 14 Nov 18
I first learned about Options Animal just about two years ago. I could immediately see what a comprehensive educational program it is and how I could become a successful trader. I finished the program in a year and am extremely pleased with the success I have had this year, far exceeding results obtained by the S&P 500, the Dow, and NASDAQ. Not only does Options Animal provide an excellent curriculum, it offers multiple ways for students to learn and each of the coaches is fantastic. They want their students to be successful. The changes that I have been able to make as a result of being a member of the Options Animal community have been important for me professionally and personally. I recommend it highly.
Sunil Tomar
19:05 29 Sep 18
Rick Gregory
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14:53 18 Jan 18
Peter Schulz
16:07 05 Jun 20
This company is for real! The education is top-notch and can help you whether a beginner or a seasoned veteran looking for new approaches. If you are looking for the resources you need to add options trading to your investing, I can't imagine a better place to get it. The community is amazing and supportive, the instructors are great, and the site has endless archives to go through. Following along with experienced traders as they identify, make, and then adjust trades really drives the lessons home. I wish I had joined this 10 years ago.
Joseph Woollen
04:03 15 Nov 19
I have been pleasantly surprised with Options Animal. Having used other options training programs with limited success, going through the Options Animal courses has been like getting a graduate degree. Their courses are comprehensive yet understandable, and it’s particularly helpful to go into their video archives to take the same courses numerous times - each with a different instructor with a slightly different teaching approach. And it’s hard to beat theIr support and collateral materials.I highly recommend Options Animal.J. Michael Woollen
Joshua Foss
18:23 29 Sep 18
Merlin Andrews
16:27 05 Nov 17
By far the best educational source for options trading that I have found in my 4+ years of learning. An incredible amount of information, education, and support - worth every investment penny for anyone serious about learning options trading. The most helpful, passionate, and skilled instructors - all with different perspectives that make it easy to find your own path instead of getting told what your path should be.
John Daggerhart
15:56 14 Sep 18
Fantastic accredited education! The courses are worth every penny. If you're serious about trading options, then Options Animal is a must. Great customer service and the one on one guidance is exceptional. Go for it!
James Hutchins
15:12 13 Jul 17
Options Animal has really improved my understanding of using options to supplement my income, as well as protect my portfolio. I had tried other options programs prior to choosing OA, but was frustrated because they did have a complete approach. Options Animal wants you to fully understand options, and equities that you may trade, allowing you to make much better choices, both in investing, and using options for income, and protection. Thank you, Options Animal!
Ken Carley
10:59 06 May 19
Been a member for almost 9 years. Always learn something new when I attend their many free summits around the US. The instructors are great and very available to the students. Absolutely the best Options Education anywhere.
Sergey Golub
21:22 19 Dec 19
If you a new or an experienced options trader this is very much desired service where you can learn a lot and get help when you need it most from live coaches at Options Animal.Keep up guys with great work!S. G.
Scott Walz
16:43 02 Dec 20
Options Animal has been great to work with. There are many trainers to work with who have different styles of teaching and trading. I have found several that I like and learn from. The training they gave me has benefitted me so much that the gains I have made in my trading account has more than paid for my subscription to the lessons. Love this company and their trainers!
Shawn C
18:00 15 Jan 17
Brian Hores
13:59 11 Jun 19
A well structured curriculum to master the intricacies of options trading. Archived sessions allow you to go at your own pace and review areas of weakness. Live classes with instructors are interactive with a chance to ask questions. The teachers are great with helping to clarify issues and help you succeed. Following he Options Animal 6-step process will lead to trading success. The tuition is worthwhile compared to paying the school of hard knocks. I haven't mastered everything but am a much more confident and profitable trader.
oliver fox
18:43 06 May 19
I am simply amazed at the amount of knowledged displayed by the option animal instructors at the Chicago summit.after having listen , and asking questions ,my knowledge of the stock market,and option has increased to a level way beyond that of the average trader. I am so thankful for finding optionsanimal.
Dino Johnson
04:45 04 Jul 18
Great instructors! You want to learn how to trade options this will give you a solid foundation! Met the owner Greg at a trading summit in Seattle and really enjoyed his approach to teaching option trading. I am a life time member.
Brett Johnson
21:39 12 Oct 18
am new to Options Animal since March of 2018 although I have traded options since 2011. While I am only half way through the curriculum, I find the content, instructors, and methodology invaluable. I very much appreciate the new view to trading that Options Animal provides, so much so I am considering migrating from a mix of stock investor and options trader to a pure options trader given the risk management and increased trade success taught at Options Animal.
Rick Kingbury
00:43 24 May 19
This training is so thorough and with the archives I can go thru a particular section until it sinks in and then I get that "ahah" moment when I really understand it. Great training. Rick Kingsbury
Jonathan Nelson
15:31 04 May 19
Very well put together. Informative. Pleasent community.
Joe Kerner
20:42 29 Aug 18
Option Animal has trained me with a process to manage my portfolio successfully. Navigating the market with confidence while using our 6 step process has helped me increase my returns while reducing my risk.My old friends Luck and Hope are not a trading strategies anymore. Using the three legged stool approach of fundamental , technical and sentimental analysis has guided me while using options to profit in any market direction. While also giving me the tools to adjust my positions when the market reacts opposite to my analysis.The team of instructors are in a single word AWESOME. They care about teaching you so you can manage your money with confidence.Thank you OA team!
Amànda Dorion
23:28 16 Oct 18
Options Animal has been great. The instructors are fantastic and everyone is always very willing to be available and answer any questions. The way the material is set up also flows very well.
Kim Schaeffer
00:05 14 Sep 18
I've read books on options for over 20 years but really never felt like I had a specific strategy to hedge my stocks because there are so many from which to chose. OptionsAnimal has an excellent strategy/approach that allows me to hedge my stocks based on my personality style within the OA system. The instructors are brilliant and passionate about what they do and want nothing more than to help their students of all skill levels. Thank you OA!
Samuel Chimento
13:10 14 Feb 19
Ron Pensari
23:51 12 Jul 17
optionsANIMAL is by far the most comprehencive options education program I have ever experienced. I have gone through enough programs to know that this school does an exceptional job in educating and supporting anyone with the desire to become an options trader. The coaches are extremely helpful and knowledgeable. It does not matter what level you trade, their course structure takes you in depth from the fundamentals all the way to the most advanced strategies. The cost for the course is well worth the money...I am a lifetime member and am glad I did it!! But, you can start at any level. The education I am learning will last a lifetime!
Edward Parker
01:44 22 Dec 20
I took the plunge with OptionsANIMAL because I was tired of "running in place" with my options trades. I'm just getting started with the Level 5 classes, and already my trading results have improved, substantially. The amount of training material that is available is incredible. If you take the time to actually study the material your trading will never be the same.
Carroll Rogers
02:34 24 Sep 18
Options Animal has proven to be interested in the success of me as a successful trader. Their staff has answered my questions, and the presentations give a good understanding about many option strategies that I did not know existed.
john panzenhagen
16:09 31 Aug 18
This is the only way to learn the option process. You will find the classes informative and well done.
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