A new breed of ETFs promises to imitate the souped-up strategies of hedge funds—at a much lower cost. But how will they fare when the rubber hits the road in a market downturn?

SOME INVESTING PITCHES target your inner optimist, with a promise of “outperformance” or a hot stock tip. But others address the pessimist in your soul: Something’s bound to go wrong, they whisper, and we can keep you safe.

You can expect the latter message to grow louder in the months ahead; the longer the stock market’s bull run continues, the more skeptics suspect a correction is due. And the loudest voices in the pessimist choir may belong to

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