This particular ETN looks at the commodity of crude oil, arguably, the most important resource in the world. Crude is vital to modern society and as such it can be a great play on the health of the world economy, surging when growth is robust and slumping when markets hit recessions. This note tracks the S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index which is designed to reflects the returns that are potentially available through an unleveraged investment in the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures contract plus the Treasury Bill rate of interest that could be earned on funds committed to the trading of the underlying contracts. Thanks to this focus, the fund could offer investors a higher return than comparable products since it collateralizes its investment with T-Bills, a move that help reduce overall costs to investors. In terms of futures contracts the fund is heavy in long dates contracts which expire a year from now. This reduces the risks of contango-- at least initially-- but it likely means that fund will deviate significantly from spot prices, at least in the near term. For investors seeking exposure to spot prices, contracts closer to maturity would probably be more appropriate. Besides this fund, investors have a few other options for achieving exposure to oil via the futures market. Other options are far more liquid but they face steeper contango issues as well. Additionally, investors have a number of equity options which allow for exposure to crude without the issues of contango but face risks of stocks. One particularly intriguing choice in this slice of the market is XOIL as it looks to stay very correlated to crude oil prices over the long haul.
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