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Harvard Sold ProShares Before Market Dip

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston - HMC Office
Harvard Management Company is housed in the Boston Federal Reserve building.

Harvard sold its holding of a popular exchange-traded fund, ProShares, prior to a large dip in value that occurred in the stock market in early February, allowing the University to avoid over $10 million in losses.

Bloomberg reported on Feb. 9 that Harvard Management Company, the investment management team that oversees Harvard’s endowment, sold shares of “ProShares Short VIX Short-Term Futures” valued at $11.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.

ProShares, also known by its ticker SVXY, is a popular exchange-traded fund that bets on stable markets. Exchange-traded funds are securities that track a group of assets, which could range from shares of stock to physical commodities. Unlike a mutual fund however, an ETF can be traded like stocks. As a result, ETFs change in value as they are traded.

ProShares ETF dropped over 90 percent in value as a result of a market rout that began in early February. The stock market dip was the biggest plunge in seven years. On Feb. 5, the Dow Jones industrial average was the biggest single-day point drop in history. ProShares traded at $93 or above for months, but, as of market close on Tuesday, ProShares was trading around $12.

Harvard Management Company has been actively attempting to reverse more than a decade of poor investment performance in the last year. N.P. “Narv” Narvekar was hired in December 2016 and quickly made sweeping changes—drastically cutting staff and spinning off many of its investments previously managed in-house to external managers.

Harvard maintains the largest university endowment in the world at $37.1 billion.

—Staff writer Lucas Ward can be reached at lucas.ward@thecrimson.com. Follow him on twitter at @LucaspfWard.

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