Wednesday , 13 December 2017


What Could Possibly Be A Better Safe Haven Than Gold? Read On

…Some market commentators are touting gold as a great portfolio diversifier, convincing investors that theinvesting8 precious metal could benefit their portfolio but there may be better alternatives than gold if the motivation is to find a hedge for economic uncertainty or political unrest.

So says Chris Philips, senior analyst in Vanguard Investment Strategy Group in edited excerpts from an article* entitled A better safe haven than gold.

The following article is presented by Lorimer Wilson, editor of www.munKNEE.com (Your Key to Making Money!)www.FinancialArticleSummariesToday.com (A site for sore eyes and inquisitive minds) and the FREE Market Intelligence Report newsletter (register here; sample here) and has been edited, abridged and/or reformatted (some sub-titles and bold/italics emphases) for the sake of clarity and brevity to ensure a fast and easy read. This paragraph must be included in any article re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.

The article goes on to say in further edited excerpts:

“During periods of market stress for equities, the asset that has performed most consistently across time is U.S. Treasuries.” Even if clients are considering the asset for diversification purposes, Philips cautions investors from jumping in headfirst. “Investing in gold comes with significant risks that should be weighed carefully.”

Risks of gold as an investment:

  • The asset class has shown itself prone to boom-bust cycles throughout history. Its volatility since 1968 has exceeded that of stocks, at 20% versus 16%.
    • In the last half century, gold experienced a bear market that lasted nearly 21 years. The price of gold went from a high of $670 a troy ounce in mid-1980 to $258 by early 2001, losing nearly two-thirds of its value—even before accounting for inflation. That could be enough to tarnish some of its luster, especially among clients looking for safety…
  • Investors tend to pile in toward highs and sell on lows.
    • According to Morningstar, Inc., investors in one of the largest gold ETFs lagged the return of that ETF by more than an average of 3 percentage points annually since the end of 1994 (11.86% versus 8.66%), largely because of the timing of investor cash flows. “The reality of performance chasing calls into question the suitability of such a volatile asset in clients’ portfolios,” suggests Philips.
  • There’s little if any evidence to support the claim that gold is a good hedge against inflation.
    • The chart below plots historical gold prices against prices adjusted for today’s purchasing power. As the blue line indicates, the value of gold has not kept up with inflation.
    • “The value of gold is subject to the whims of the marketplace, driven more by global supply and demand than inflation,” explains Philips, making it much like other commodities. “Using gold to hedge inflation may or may not be effective. The price movement over the past decade makes that point.” During a period when U.S. inflation was well contained, the price per troy ounce shot from $400 in 2005 to nearly $2,000 in 2012, and then plunged below $1,200 in 2013, bouncing back above $1,300 recently.


Gold has been poor inflation hedge

 

U.S. Treasuries are an enduring diversifier

  • Despite the rising interest rate environment, Treasuries remain among the best safe-haven assets.
    • During the global financial crisis, while gold prices spiked in volatility, falling nearly 30% from peak to trough in 2008 Treasuries were one of the few asset classes that provided downside protection through the uncertainty.
    • “Correlations tend to increase among risky assets during periods of extreme market stress, and gold’s record as a safe haven has not been as consistent,” points out Philips.
  • The high degree of certainty of cash flow and return of principal is what makes Treasuries a good safe-haven asset. That’s peace of mind that is worth something, especially during times of extreme market stress.
    • The flight to quality in January reinforces that point. As equities dropped, Treasury prices moved higher, offsetting stock losses and dampening portfolio volatility.
  • The role of high-quality bonds as a diversifier, especially during sharp equity market declines, remains intact regardless of yields and justifies their inclusion in balanced portfolios,” says Philips. (High-quality bonds include U.S. Treasuries and other fixed income securities with a credit rating of Baa3 or higher by Moody’s or a credit rating of BBB- or higher by Standard & Poor’s or Fitch.)


Gold performance comparison table

The trade-offs inherent in gold

Even as interest rates rise, what ultimately matters most for risk-averse clients is the return of their total portfolio.

  • Over the long term, Vanguard expects bonds to continue to reduce the risk of loss for balanced investors. Accordingly, greater economic uncertainty argues for holding more bonds, not less.
  • By contrast, an investment in gold could result in big gains, but based on its volatile history, a bust isn’t out of the realm of possibility either.
  • Clients who are comfortable with gold’s unique risks should view an investment in the context of a well-diversified portfolio, rather than as a concentrated position.
Editor’s Note: The author’s views and conclusions in the above article are unaltered and no personal comments have been included to maintain the integrity of the original post. Furthermore, the views, conclusions and any recommendations offered in this article are not to be construed as an endorsement of such by the editor.

*https://advisors.vanguard.com/VGApp/iip/site/advisor/researchcommentary/article/IWE_InvComGoldAlternative?sf2963546=1 (© 1995–2014 The Vanguard Group, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Related Articles:
What would the optimal portfolio allocation in gold have been according to Modern Portfolio Theory over several different periods of time? This article has a look at how an investor could have combined gold and equities to enhance risk-adjusted returns. Read More »
The stock market is likely to experience a 4-year overall market loss of -25%, followed by positive 9% average annual total returns for the S&P 500 over the subsequent 6-year period, which would compound to produce a 10-year total return averaging 2.3%. Read More »
While the stock market is the only game in town – for now – stocks will not continue to out perform all other asset classes indefinitely. Eventually either bonds and gold will rally or stocks will crash very hard. It is one, the other, or even more likely a mixture of both. Read More »