- broad emerging markets exposure in a Canadian ETF - this is a new thing, though Canadians could have bought Vanguard's emerging markets fund in the US (NYSE: VWO), which is in fact the same thing since CWO's holdings consist 100% of VWO
- fund is Canadian domiciled, i.e. is a Canadian not a US security, for US tax purposes, which prevents this fund from being subject to US estate taxes for high net worth investors - those with estates of more than c.USD$3.5 million (I wish!) according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers' U.S. Estate Tax Exposure for Canadians (updated April 2009)
- MER of 0.65% is reasonable considering trading and currency transaction fees, especially those doing regular rebalancing and using a broker who won't allow wash trades or USD in a registered account. Som Seif sent this comparison of a Canadian buying VWO and holding it three years:
When you buy and sell, you pay 1-1.5% exchange rate spread.
So, cost to you for buying and then holding for 3 yrs is 1%+3x25bps+1%=2.75%. That's 90bps a year.
If you do any trading in between the 3 yrs for rebalancing, the cost goes up even more.
- currency hedging in CWO is CAD vs the USD not CAD vs the various currencies of the emerging markets countries starting with India (19% of the portfolio), Brazil (15%), Korea (12%) etc. What Claymore does is called proxy hedging - the USD is used as a proxy / replacement for the basket of CWO's currencies on the supposition that as goes the USD, so goes the basket. The reason for doing proxy hedging is that few world currencies are liquid enough to easily and cheaply hedge. Som Seif says it works, but being ever the skeptic, I took a closer look, using the top ten countries which comprise 90% of CWO as my sample. My simple analysis in the chart below suggests that over the last 1-year and 3-year periods, the USD and the CWO currencies have not gone up and down together against the CAD. In fact, the CWO currencies as a whole have hardly changed at all vs the CAD, suggesting that hedging isn't necessary at all! Individual currencies have had big shifts but they have almost completely cancelled each other out. Meanwhile the USD has had much larger swings. Granted, this is a short time period so CAD might gain against the emerging world for the next twenty years, and reduce the CAD value of those foreign holdings as a result, which would make hedging worthwhile. But hedging USD vs CAD seems to be a poor way to hedge VWO. CWO's tracking errors against the MSCI index it is supposed to mirror are likely to be very large.