Morgan Stanley’s research group, headed by Paul Mazzilli, released a report on an age-old debate: exchange traded funds (ETFs) vs. mutual funds.

The title of the document – "Exchange-Traded Funds: ETFs Provide Attractive Alternatives to Open-End Mutual Fund" – leaves no mystery as to its findings.

The following, extracted by Heather Bell for Index Universe, will give us a rundown of ETF pluses, reminding investors why they love these funds so much.

  • ETFs are the lowest-priced investment tool in registration.
  • The range of fees in domestic equity ETFs covers a lot of ground: 0.07% to 0.95%; international averages are about 0.55%.
  • Capital gains are avoided when making in-kind transactions.
  • 70% of the available 698 ETFs were listed in 2006 or later. The growth speaks for itself, in terms of popularity and convenience.
  • 2007 was the year of the leveraged and inverse ETF, with a total of 52 coming to market.
  • Fixed-income had a record 45 ETFs launched in 2007, letting this category shine in the spotlight like never before.
  • Assets at $607 billion by the end of May 2008.

Beyond the numbers, it is important to note how ETFs have touched down on investors at every level, from individual to institutional, as well as advisors. ETFs are also becoming a staple for use in asset allocation models, portfolios and framework.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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