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Volume has expanded on many of the issues, making them some of the most liquid trading instruments around.
It seems clear that the debate between choosing a traditional mutual fund or an ETF is clearly in the corner of the ETF.
However, that has been changing over the last couple of years.
One theory favoring stocks is that you can just pick the best stocks in whatever group or index you are interested in, and not be weighted down by the dogs of the group. Of course, that depends on you being an excellent stock picker.
Also, there are ETFs that have leverage, and some that will be inverse to their index, so a long-term short position could have long-term capital gain potential.
The comparison between ETFs and CEFs (closed-end funds) is a bit different.
One way to pare down the list is to look at monthly average trading volume.
Liquidity is certainly an issue, as some of the newer, narrowly focused ETFs have very low trading volumes, with correspondingly wider bid ask spreads, while the most popular choices are extremely liquid, with a penny or so spread between bid and ask.