A total of 128 U.S.-listed exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) and exchange-traded notes (“ETNs”) had their listings removed in 2016, easily establishing a new ETF closures record. Of the 2,652 U.S. exchange-traded products (“ETPs”) launched since 1993, when the industry began, only 1,964 remain, putting the lifetime death toll at 688 (574 ETFs and 114 ETNs). This pushes the mortality rate to 25.9%, up from 23.3% a year ago. More than a quarter of all ETFs and ETNs have failed to survive.

Two additional closure-related records were broken in 2016: (1) the largest closure ever and (2) the most closure-related assets affected in a single year. More than $1.5 billion was residing in the VelocityShares 3x Long Crude ETN (former ticker UWTI) on November 16 when it announced its delisting, surpassing the combined assets of the previous two largest closures. The previous record holder was PowerShares DB Crude Oil Double Long ETN (former ticker DXO), which held $600 million when it closed back in 2009. Calendar year 2016 also produced the third-largest closing ever, the $508 million in the CS X-Links Cushing MLP Infrastructure ETN (former ticker MLPN) in November.

Assets in the 128 ETFs and ETNs closed in 2016 held a record $5.4 billion at the time their closures were announced, which was double the 2015 amount. Granted, owners removed many of those assets between announcement day and liquidation day, but the fact remains that closures impacted a large number of investors.

The ETF mortality rate continues on its relentless upward trend. The total number of closures divided by the total launches was only 7.4% at the end of 2008. Today, just eight years later, that figure has more than tripled to 25.9%, breaking above the 25% threshold for the first time ever with August’s record-setting 41 closures. Every new product brought to market is now facing tougher odds than ever before.

Closures affected 32 unique brands with AccuShares, Calamos, Fallah, and MAXIS making a complete exit. Sponsors and brands with the highest closure quantities for the year included State Street SPDRs (17), BlackRock iShares (14), Deutsche Bank (11), and UBS ETRACS (10). SPDRs and iShares are probably the two most recognized ETF brands, indicating that even the “big boys” in the ETF playground believe that pruning is a necessary requirement for healthy growth.

The 128 closures consisted of 99 ETFs and 29 ETNs. As for their strategy implementation approaches, 15 employed active management, 32 used smart-beta indexes, and 81 were based on traditional capitalization-weighted benchmarks. Within our broadly defined categories, the largest closure counts were Global and International (31), Leveraged & Inverse (27), Style & Strategy (23), Fixed Income (22), Sectors (13), Commodity (7), Volatility (4), and Currency (1).

Six of the ETF closures were planned years in advance. When launched, target maturity bond ETFs announce their maturity and liquidation date. Therefore, the four iShares iBonds ETFs and two Guggenheim BulletShares ETFs that matured and liquidated in 2016 are not typical closings.

Another new twist noticed for the first time this year was the concept of “forced delistings” initiated by the stock exchanges. The NYSE delisted the DB Commodity Long ETN (former ticker DPU) after the close on April 15 and DB Base Metals Long ETN (former ticker BDG) after the close on September 16. The reason was these ETNs failed to maintain at least $400,000 in assets. BATS delisted the ProShares CDS North American HY Credit (former ticker TYTE) after the close of trading on May 18 because the ETF had fewer than 50 beneficial owners.

Not all delistings results in liquidation and the return of shareholder money. Four products fall into that category for 2016. The failure of Deutsche Bank to redeem the two commodity ETNs mentioned above did not affect too many shareholders. However, the decision by Credit Suisse to not redeem or otherwise liquidate the VelocityShares 3x Long Crude Oil ETN (former ticker UWTI) and VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude Oil ETN (former ticker DWTI) is a different matter. The 3x long product held $1.57 billion when the delisting was announced, making it the largest closure in history. The 3x inverse version had $227 million in assets, making it a significant event also.

The average age of funds closing in 2016 was 47.7 months—just short of the 4-year mark, so sponsors are giving these products ample opportunity to succeed. Ages ranged from a low of just 2.4 months for the AccuShares teeter-totter oil funds (former tickers OILU and OILD) to the ripe old age of 119.4 months (almost 10 years) for three WisdomTree ETFs.

The interactive table below listing all 128 closures for 2016 is currently sorted by product name.

ETF and ETN Closures of 2016

#TickerNameLast Day AUM ($M)A/SB/INotes:
1OILDAccuShares S&P GSCI Crude Oil Down (C-corp)09/08/20162.7I
2OILUAccuShares S&P GSCI Crude Oil Up (C-corp)09/08/20162.2I
3VXDNAccuShares Spot CBOE VIX Down (C-corp)09/08/20160.7I
4VXUPAccuShares Spot CBOE VIX Up (C-corp)09/08/20160.8I
5EPROAdvisorShares EquityPro10/21/201616.0A
6YPROAdvisorShares YieldPro10/24/201618.3A
7PUTXALPS Enhanced Put Write Strategy06/24/20162.5A
8SLDRALPS Sector Leaders03/24/20161.1SB
9SLOWALPS Sector Low Volatility03/24/20161.2SB
10STXXALPS STOXX Europe 60003/24/20165.4I
11OSMSBarclays OFI SteelPath MLP ETN06/21/20160.6I
12CFGECalamos Focused Growth08/01/201626.0A
13RPXColumbia Large Cap Growth01/28/201614.1A
14RWGColumbia Select Large Cap Growth01/28/20167.1A
15GVTColumbia Select Large Cap Value01/28/20166.7A
16WIZECrowdInvest Wisdom09/27/20162.6SB
17CSCBCS X-Links Commodity Benchmark ETN01/27/20161.1I
18MLPNCS X-Links Cushing MLP Infrastructure ETN11/25/2016508.1I
19CSMACS X-Links Merger Arbitrage ETN06/10/20164.3SB
20CVOLC-Tracks Citi Volatility Index TR ETN05/23/20162.4I
21BUNTDB 3x German Bund Futures ETN09/19/201621.8I
22JGBDDB 3x Inverse Japanese Govt Bond Futures ETN09/19/201628.0I
23JGBTDB 3x Japanese Govt Bond Futures ETN09/19/20165.5I
24LBNDDB 3x Long 25+ Treasury Bond ETN09/19/201611.1I
25SBNDDB 3x Short 25+ Treasury Bond ETN09/19/201626.7I
26BDGDB Base Metals Long ETN09/16/20160.4I3,4
27DPUDB Commodity Long ETN04/15/20160.4I3,4
28BUNLDB German Bund Futures ETN09/19/201614.4I
29JGBSDB Inverse Japanese Govt Bond Futures ETN09/19/201612.3I
30JGBLDB Japanese Govt Bond Futures ETN09/19/20162.7I
31LLDMDirexion Daily FTSE Developed Markets Bull 1.25x10/07/20161.3I
32LLEMDirexion Daily FTSE Emerging Markets Bull 1.25x10/07/20161.2I
33HEGEDirexion Daily MSCI Europe Currency Hedged Bull 2x05/20/20161.5I
34HEGJDirexion Daily MSCI Japan Currency Hedged Bull 2x05/20/20161.2I
35TOTSDirexion Daily Total Market Bear 1x07/15/20162.7I
36VSPYDirexion S&P 500 Volatility Response10/07/20168.3SB
37VLLVDirexion Value Line Conservative Equity03/23/20161.2SB
38VLMLDirexion Value Line Mid- and Large-Cap High Dividend03/23/20166.7SB
39VLSMDirexion Value Line Small- and Mid-Cap High Dividend03/23/201611.6SB
40LSCELEMENTS S&P Commodity Trends Idr ETN09/16/201627.5SB
41SBEUETFS Diversified-Factor Developed Europe11/21/20161.2SB
42SBUSETFS Diversified-Factor U.S. Large Cap11/21/20167.8SB
43WITEETFS Physical White Metal Basket Shares03/02/201615.7I
44MLPLETRACS 2x Mthly Alerian MLP Infra ETN01/29/2016218.9I2
45MLPVETRACS 2xMonthly Leveraged S&P MLP ETN01/29/201614.5I2
46XVIXETRACS Daily Long-Short VIX ETN08/17/201613.1SB
47DVHIETRACS Diversified High Income ETN08/15/201623.3I
48HOMXETRACS ISE Exclusively Homebuilders ETN08/17/201622.7I
49RWXLETRACS Mthly Pay 2x DJ Intl Real Est ETN08/15/201612.7I
50SPGHETRACS S&P 500 Gold Hedged Idx ETN08/17/201623.1I
51VQTSETRACS S&P 500 VEQTOR Switch Index ETN08/17/201621.9SB
52FMLPETRACS Wells Fargo MLP Ex-Energy ETN08/15/201615.9I
53MLPWETRACS Wells Fargo MLP Index ETN08/15/20169.4I
54FIAFalah Russell-IdealRatings U.S. Large Cap07/14/20161.3SB
55CRBQGlobal Commodity Equity03/24/201616.2I
56CHNBGlobal X GF China Bond04/18/201622.2I
57BSCGGuggenheim BulletShares 2016 Corp Bond12/29/2016403.8I1
58BSJGGuggenheim BulletShares 2016 HY Corp Bond12/29/2016364.1I1
59EMREGuggenheim Emerging Markets Real Estate09/20/20162.3I
60EWRIGuggenheim Russell 1000 Equal Weight01/26/201674.0SB
61HHDGHighland HFR Equity Hedge04/11/20161.9SB
62DRVNHighland HFR Event-Driven04/11/20162.5SB
63HHFRHighland HFR Global04/11/20162.8SB
64HKORHorizons Korea KOSPI 20004/29/20161.7I
65QLTCiShares B - Ca Rated Corporate Bond08/23/201611.3I
66QLTBiShares Baa - Ba Rated Corporate Bond08/23/201636.1I
67IEILiShares Enhanced International Large-Cap08/23/201668.2A
68IEISiShares Enhanced International Small-Cap08/23/201619.3A
69IELGiShares Enhanced U.S. Large-Cap08/23/201682.0A
70IESMiShares Enhanced U.S. Small-Cap08/23/201624.8A
71GTIPiShares Global Inflation-Linked Bond08/23/201614.6I
72IBDFiShares iBonds Dec 2016 Term Corporate12/15/201665.0I1
73IBCBiShares iBonds Mar 2016 Term Corp ex-Financials03/29/201634.9I1
74IBDAiShares iBonds Mar 2016 Term Corporate03/29/201665.6I1
75IBMEiShares iBonds Sep 2016 Term Muni Bond09/01/2016121.6I1
76ITIPiShares International Inflation-Linked Bond08/23/201625.0I
77EMHZiShares MSCI Emerging Markets Horizon08/23/20162.9SB
78EEMLiShares MSCI Emerging Mkts Latin America08/23/20168.3I
79ERWJanus Equal Risk Weighted Large Cap02/24/20162.3SB
80NKYMAXIS Nikkei 22503/11/201643.7I
81RWVOppenheimer Navellier Overall A-100 Revenue12/15/20167.1SB
82PAEUPacer Autopilot Hedged European12/22/20162.6I
83CHNAPowerShares China A-Share03/18/20165.5A
84PFEMPowerShares Fundamental Emerging Markets Local Debt03/18/20164.2SB
85KBWCPowerShares KBW Capital Markets03/18/201611.2I
86KBWIPowerShares KBW Insurance03/18/201614.4I
87TYTEProShares CDS North American HY Credit05/18/20162.0A4
88FUTSProShares Managed Futures Strategy03/18/20167.1SB
89IGSProShares Short Investment Grade Corporate08/25/20162.6I
90UCDProShares Ultra Bloomberg Commodity08/25/201612.4I
91HBUProShares Ultra Homebuilders & Supplies08/25/20160.9I
92IGUProShares Ultra Investment Grade Corporate08/25/20163.2I
93UXJProShares Ultra MSCI Pacific Ex-Japan08/25/20161.4I
94CMDProShares UltraShort Bloomberg Commodity08/25/20166.4I
95HBZProShares UltraShort Homebuilders & Supplies08/25/20160.8I
96GDJSProShares UltraShort Junior Miners08/25/20160.2I
97JPXProShares UltraShort MSCI Pacific ex-Japan08/25/20161.1I
98UKRecon Capital FTSE 10003/10/20161.0I
99IJNKSPDR Barclays International High Yield Bond08/24/201625.7I
100EMCDSPDR BofA Merrill Lynch Emg Mkts Corp Bond08/24/201614.8I
101XLFSSPDR Financial Services Select Sector11/14/2016140.1I
102EMFTSPDR MSCI EM 5008/24/20162.1I
103EMBBSPDR MSCI EM Beyond BRIC08/24/20162.6I
104HREXSPDR MSCI International Real Estate Currency Hedged11/14/20162.1I
105QMEXSPDR MSCI Mexico StrategicFactors11/14/20162.2SB
106QKORSPDR MSCI South Korea StrategicFactors11/14/20162.8SB
107QTWNSPDR MSCI Taiwan StrategicFactors11/14/20165.9SB
108BABSSPDR Nuveen Barclays Build America Bond08/24/201661.3I
109CXASPDR Nuveen Barclays California Muni Bond08/24/2016149.3I
110INYSPDR Nuveen Barclays New York Muni Bond08/24/201634.4I
111JPPSPDR Russell/Nomura PRIME Japan08/24/201627.7I
112JSCSPDR Russell/Nomura Small Cap Japan08/24/201654.1I
113BIKSPDR S&P BRIC 4008/24/201673.3I
114MDDSPDR S&P International Mid Cap08/24/201649.2I
115ROROSPDR SSgA Risk Aware08/24/20162.0A
116BITEThe Restaurant ETF12/22/20161.4SB
117FCFITrimTabs Intl Free-Cash-Flow10/31/201613.1SB
118FBGUBS AG FI Enhanced Big Cap Growth ETN08/17/2016151.8I
119MESVanEck Vectors Gulf States10/07/20166.9I
120IDXJVanEck Vectors Indonesia Small-Cap10/07/20165.9I
121DWTIVelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude ETN12/08/2016226.8I3
122UWTIVelocityShares 3x Long Crude ETN12/08/20161,568.5I3
123TONSWisdomTree Coal Fund09/22/20161.1I
124CCXEWisdomTree Commodity Country Equity09/22/20167.2SB
125CCXWisdomTree Commodity Currency Strategy09/22/20165.0A
126DBUWisdomTree Global ex-U.S. Utility09/22/201615.0SB
127GNATWisdomTree Global Natural Resources09/22/201616.9SB
128JGBBWisdomTree Japan Interest Rate Strategy09/22/20164.4SB
The A/SB/I column indicates Actively Managed, Smart Beta, or traditional Index. AUM = Assets Under Management (in $ millions) at time closure was announced. Actual amount of assets liquidated will be lower. Notes: (1) reached planned maturity, (2) early termination triggered, (3) delisted but not liquidated, (4) forced delisting. All exchange-traded notes are identified with “ETN” as part of their name description.

Additional resources:

Disclosure: Author has no positions in any of the securities, companies, or ETF sponsors mentioned. No income, revenue, or other compensation (either directly or indirectly) is received from, or on behalf of, any of the companies or ETF sponsors mentioned.