The Real 'Roller-Coaster' Of Investing In Stocks

We have discussed the apples-to-unicorns comparisons of returns between stocks and treasuries in the past making the critical points that a) risky corporate equity returns should be compared to risk corporate equity yields/spreads (as opposed to Treasuries), and b) they must be adjusted for risk. However, as we also pointed out, and in no way suggesting one is better than the other, there is one other major real risk that is so often overlooked it is remarkable. That risk is ‘drawdown’. As the following chart summarizes over the past 33 years, it’s been quite a roller-coaster ride for those anchoring-biased human beings looking at their account statements. More interestingly, it is exactly this drawdown of recent days in bond markets that is supposedly setting off the great rotation – even though the order of magnitude relative to stocks is dramatically lower.

 

 

and coincidentally, dshort.com published this chart for a longer-term view of rolling returns…

with this warning…

As these charts illustrate, and as many households have discovered during the 21st century so far, investing in equities carries substantial risk. Households approaching retirement should understand this risk and make rational decisions about diversification. In the past I’ve suggested that they should also consider fixed income alternatives for that part of the nest egg that will pay non-discretionary expenses not covered by Social Security and pensions. Unfortunately this traditional wisdom has been less helpful in recent years owing to the Fed Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) and various stimulus strategies, which have collectively shrunk interest rates.

Charts: JPMorgan and Doug Short

    

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