Publications

- March 1, 2016: Vol. 3, Number 3

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All-Weather Diversification: Investors cannot eliminate swings in portfolio value, but low correlations can help mitigate them

by Brad Case

This winter’s weather seemed to hit me everywhere I went. The second-heaviest snowfall ever recorded shut down my hometown in Virginia. A colleague canceled a meeting with me after snow trapped him in his home in Colorado. My sister couldn’t make it up her Massachusetts driveway to get to the airport. Even when I escaped to Florida, driving rain kept me indoors.

There’s no reason your clients wouldn’t feel similarly trapped by investment market developments. Last year was dismal for practically every asset category: large-cap U.S. stocks (S&P 500) were among the bright spots with total returns averaging just 1.38 percent, while U.S. bonds (BC US Agg) were even weaker at just 0.55 percent. Small-cap U.S. stocks (Russell 2000) hurt investors with returns averaging –4.41 percent, while usually reliable large-cap value stocks disappointed at –3.13 percent; small-cap value stocks were even worse at –7.47 percent. Non-U.S. investments were frightful, with stocks (

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