The iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index ETNs, according to the product’s website, are “designed to provide exposure to the S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index.” They are unsecured debt securities with no principal protection that are issued by Barclays. They trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol OIL. According to the iPath: “Any payment to be made on the ETNs, including any payment at maturity or upon redemption, depends on the ability of Barclays Bank PLC to satisfy its obligations as they come due. An investment in the ETNs involves significant risks, including possible loss of principal, and may not be suitable for all investors. The Index is a sub-index of the S&P GSCI® Commodity Index and reflects the returns that are potentially available through an unleveraged investment in the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures contract. Owning the ETNs is not the same as owning interests in the commodities futures contract comprising the Index or a security directly linked to the performance of the Index. For additional information regarding the risks associated with the ETNs, please see “Selected Risk Considerations” below.”
Exchange traded notes (ETNs), like OIL, are unsecured, unsubordinated debt securities issued by an underwriting bank. They track the performance of a particular market, but unlike exchange traded funds (ETFs), they are structured products issued as senior debt notes and do not represent an ownership stake in the markets they track. ETNs have a maturity date backed by the issuer.