The Best and Worst Investments of 2013

By Ben Steverman - 2013-12-06T18:41:13Z

Photograph by Jin Lee/Bloomberg

Company Symbol % Change
15 of 22

Worst Exchange-Traded Fund

ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF


VIXY is designed to profit from market mayhem. That makes it a terrible strategy in an exceptionally calm year for markets. The ETF invests in instruments tied to the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, which is often called the "fear gauge" of the U.S. stock market. The VIX hit a five-year low in January and stayed there for most of the year as worries about economic strength in the U.S. receded, according to Bloomberg Industries. And, because VIXY invests in futures contracts that erode in value over time, the fund actually did much worse than the VIX.

Of 1,141 U.S.-based exchange-traded funds. Excluded are exchange-traded notes and ETFs that use leverage.