‘Hunger Games’ erupts for ETFs as debuts fall to five-year low

The $4.4 trillion market for U.S. exchange-traded funds is slowing down.

Asset managers set up fewer ETFs in 2019 than in any other year since 2014, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Some 225 funds traded for the first time during the past 12 months, down for a second straight year. At the same time, fund closures spiked 35%.

It’s a sign that a golden age for ETF issuance that’s fostered more than 2,000 products may be losing some of its luster. As management fees trend toward zero, fund issuers must look to uncharted areas for opportunities to woo assets and break out in a space where increasingly only the largest thrive.