Editorial: How the physicals v synthetics debate was won (sort of)

Richard Jory

If there had been an equities division within Barclays in the US in the early days of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), the debate about whether physically-backed or derivatives-backed is better would probably never have emerged. But there was no such division, and the debate raged, especially in Europe, where derivatives-backed ETFs were born within the creative laboratories that sit deep within investment banks.

In Europe, the proponents of each method dedicated massive marketing budgets to promot

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