Last October, in a piece that ended up going somewhat viral, I talked about the idea that investors were rationally bidding up tech stocks in a desire to “own the robots” that would inevitably be replacing them in the work force.
Just own the damn robots posited that maybe it wasn’t so irrational to be buying stocks for survival purposes. It was me thinking out loud and noodling, but the response was huge. I got a ton of feedback, emails etc.
Anyway, people are doing exactly what I was talking about, it turns out. In just the first few weeks of this year, the robotics related stock ETFs have seen massive inflows.
The Global X Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Thematic ETF (BOTZ) has taken in more than $650 million from investors in January — $659 million as of the end of the week of January 26, to be exact. That’s an asset-gathering pace that would be good for most broadly diversified equity funds…
BOTZ now has $2.4 billion in assets and is only about a year and a half old, having launched in September 2016. ROBO also has $2.4 billion in assets
These are very big numbers for niche / thematic ETFs. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve gone up a lot over the last year, but it’s also an interesting way to think about some of the more widespread but sub rosa fears people have about their own careers in the future. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if some of that $659 million pouring in this month was a form of “disruption insurance.”