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It Is Always Darkest Before The Dawn: Four Arguments For Investing In Commodities

The commodity asset class has become a pariah to most investors, the victim of a 5-year swan dive, with cumulative losses totaling over 50%, as measured by the Bloomberg Commodity Index. Despite recent returns, we maintain that a strategic allocation to the commodity asset class still makes sense on a forward-looking basis, given its desirable combination of inflation protection and low correlation with the equity and fixed-income asset classes.

The recent poor performance in commodities raises the question of why any such allocation should even exist, given that over the last five years commodities have dropped, while both equities and bonds have risen. This argument ignores the fact that diversification is a tool for dealing with an unknown future, and always looks somewhat damaging in retrospect. Given asset class returns remain devilishly difficult to predict consistently, we believe diversification still provides the only free lunch in investing.

In this paper, we present four arguments that provide strong evidence for why investors who have stuck with the asset class should remain invested and why everyone else should consider the current environment as an opportunity to add commodity exposure to their portfolios. However, we note that while the observations below are somewhat tactical in nature, the strongest arguments for including commodities in a portfolio are for their strategic roles as a diversifying asset class and as a hedge against inflation.
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Tim Atwill
Tim Atwill, Ph.D., CFA

Head of Investment Strategy

 

 

Tim Atwill
Tim Atwill, Ph.D., CFA
Greg Liebl

Greg Liebl, CFA

Portfolio Manager

 

 

Greg Liebl

Greg Liebl, CFA

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