A great catch from The Wall Street Journal:
[Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.)], the Republican whip in the House of Representatives, bought up to $15,000 in shares of ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury ETF last December, according to his 2009 financial disclosure statement. The exchange-traded fund takes a short position in long-dated government bonds. In effect, it is a bet against U.S. government bonds — and perhaps on inflation in the future.
Nice! Here’s a more thorough description of the bond product, from Reuters.
ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury (the Fund), formerly ProShares UltraShort Lehman 20+ Year Treasury, seeks daily investment results that correspond to twice (200%) the inverse (opposite) of the daily performance of the Barclays Capital 20+ Year U.S. Treasury Bond Index (the Index). The Index includes all publicly issued, the United States Treasury securities that have a remaining maturity greater than 20 years, are non-convertible, are denominated in United States dollars, are rated investment grade (at least Baa3 by Moody’s Investors Service or BBB- by Standard & Poor’s (S&P)), are fixed rate, and have more than $250 million par outstanding. The Index is weighted by the relative market value of all securities meeting the Index criteria. The Fund takes positions in securities and/or financial instruments that, in combination, should have similar daily return characteristics as –200% of the daily return of the Index. The Fund’s investment advisor is ProShare Advisors LLC.
But it appears that Cantor is not a very canny investor. The fund is down 31 percent this year.