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What are Inverse Mutual Funds?

mas-inverse-mutualfunds
We all know mutual funds, but what are inverse mutual funds all about?

They are a special type of funds in which the value goes up when the stock market comes down. They are nothing but "short funds" or funds having short positions of the index or stocks. By investing in this fund investors/traders can take advantage of fall in the markets.

The main objective of the inverse mutual fund is to provide investors with an alternative during market-decline and in the case where they cannot short sell the index. This type of fund is generally linked to the market index such as the S&P 500 or any other benchmark index. The value of such funds change similar to the traditional funds, on a daily basis, say if the index declines by 1 percent in a day, the fund value increases by 1 percent for that day.

In what other ways these funds differ from the traditional funds?

While a traditional mutual fund purchases shares of index or stocks, which is income generating in the form dividends, the inverse mutual funds do not purchase the stocks themselves. Instead, they may short sell the index or stocks or even buy put options on the index or the stocks. Hence, these funds make money only if the particular index or stock falls.

How does these funds benefit retail investors or traders?

Many investors,rather traders, can make use of this type of fund as a hedge against market conditions.Hedging is method that can be used to protect your investments in case of a market fall. During market corrections, investors/traders could buy some shares of an inverse fund in order to protect their long positions in other funds or stocks. This way, even if the market does go down, they will be able to recoup some of their losses on their long positions with the inverse fund.

Disadvantages:

Unlike the traditional funds, there are no dividends in these type of funds. The costs involves are also high since frequent churning of positions required on a day to day basis. They also involve high risks and needs constant monitoring of the fund value and the market direction.

Conclusion:

Firstly, investors should only purchase an Inverse Mutual Fund if they completely understand the risks associated with shorting and the returns associated with it. These funds can work as a hedge only and investors will not benefit from investing a large amount of money into it, since stock markets have performed well in the long-term. This can be used as short-term strategy only and not as a long-term one. Hence, Inverse Mutual Funds are complicated instruments than traditional mutual funds and it should only be used by sophisticated investors and traders.

There are many such funds in developed markets and there aren't any such funds in emerging markets like India. Hope some fund house would take some cue from this and launch an inverse fund soon.

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