Investors must always be comfortable with the idea that the market bears risk.
Sometimes this risk flies under the radar and isn’t as pronounced as it probably should be.
However, in other cases, the topic of risk can catapult to the forefront of discussion. There can be specific events or signals unfolding that give investors the jitters – and during these times, investors will make adjustments to their portfolios to avoid getting caught off guard.
How Billionaires are Hedging
In the following infographic from Sprott Physical Bullion Trusts, we explain the particular geopolitical risks that have the world’s most elite investors concerned today – and what moves they are making to protect themselves from black swans.
The world isn’t predictable at the best of times – but after unanticipated occurrences such as Brexit and the election of Trump in 2016, the geopolitical tea leaves are getting even more difficult to read.
The world is approaching a major inflection point and the intense amount of global angst we’re experiencing now stems from deep, structural forces that have been building over decades.
– Reva Goujon, VP Global Analysis of Stratfor
According to Reva Goujon, VP Global Analysis of Stratfor, we are experiencing the perfect storm of “-isms”: nationalism, nativism, protectionism, and isolationism.
As a result, the following potential geopolitical risks are at the top of the agenda for experts and top investors:
Unpredictability of the Trump administration, government inaction, a trade war with China, and NAFTA renegotiations
Economic nationalism, further “exits” from the EU, Russia and China seeking to assert authority, terrorism, escalation of Middle East conflicts, and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions
Elite Investors Taking Action
With these risks perceived to be on the table, some of the world’s most elite investors like Ray Dalio and Warren Buffett are taking action. Here’s what they are up to:
Ray Dalio, the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, had this to say:
When it comes to assessing political matters we are very humble.
-Ray Dalio, Aug 2017
Dalio’s advice: to stay liquid, stay diversified, and not be overly exposed to any particular economic outcomes. He also recommends a 5%-10% position in gold.
The Oracle of Omaha has a similar but very different perspective.
No one can tell you when these traumas will occur – not me, not Charlie, not economists, not the media.
– Warren Buffett, Feb 2017
With this in mind and with equities expensive, the seasoned value investor holds onto piles of cash to prepare for potential buying opportunities. Berkshire Hathaway now has $99.7 billion in undeployed cash, the most in the company’s history.
Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman took a position in “out of the money” call options on the VIX.
This will protect against stock market risk.
– Bill Ackman, Aug 2017
The billionaire founder of Greenlight Capital says he is keeping gold as a top position.
The (Trump) administration comes with a high degree of uncertainty.
– David Einhorn, Feb 2017
Lastly, the famous value investor Howard Marks warned his clients to move into lower-risk investments to protect against future losses.
The uncertainties are unusual in terms of number, scale and insolubility in areas including secular economic growth; the impact of central banks; interest rates and inflation; political dysfunction; geopolitical trouble spots; and the long-term impact of technology.
– Howard Marks, July 2017
Animation: How Billionaires are Preparing for the Next Bear Market
No one likes to lose money, even if you have billions to spare. See how the world’s most elite investors – like Ray Dalio – are protecting themselves.
How Billionaires are Preparing for the Next Bear Market
No one likes to lose money, even if you have billions to spare.
It’s why the prospect of a bear market – a prolonged downturn which sees stock prices fall by at least 20% over two months or more – is something that keeps even the world’s most elite investors awake at night.
To hedge against this concern, the world’s billionaires use a variety of strategies and tactics to protect their wealth, including setting up their portfolios with specific asset allocations that can help soften any blow caused by an extended market downturn.
Today’s animation comes to us from Sprott Physical Bullion Trusts and it highlights a strategy being used by billionaires ranging from Ray Dalio to John Tudor Jones II.
Because market sentiment can change so quickly in the market, these elite investors protect themselves by having diverse portfolios that include uncorrelated assets.
While this sounds complicated, uncorrelated assets are simply investments that don’t move up or down in the same direction as the other asset classes in the portfolio. A small allocation to these uncorrelated items can help protect the value of a portfolio when market sentiment changes.
The King of Uncorrelated Assets
What kind of asset classes can be used for this kind of purpose?
While options like real estate, commodities, and cash can contribute to a more diversified portfolio beyond traditional stocks and bonds, many experts say that gold is the undisputed king of uncorrelated assets.
The price of gold doesn’t usually doesn’t move with the wider stock market – and often, because of its history, the yellow metal can even increase in price during the course of a bear market.
Here are some of the reasons billionaires turn towards an allocation in gold:
- Gold has acted as a store of value for thousands of years
- Gold can lower the volatility of a portfolio
- Gold can act as a hedge against inflation in some scenarios
- Gold is a traditional safe haven asset that investors flock to when the market goes astray
To kick off 2019, a new billionaire jumped onto the gold bandwagon – along with previous advocates such as Ray Dalio, David Einhorn, John Paulson, and John Tudor Jones II.
The newest entry to the club is Sam Zell, the pioneer behind real estate investment trusts (REITs). He bought gold for the first time in January, citing that it is “a good hedge” and that “supply is shrinking” as new mine discoveries dries up.
With market volatility back in the fray, it’ll be interesting to see how many more of the world’s elite investors also jump on the bandwagon.
A Brief History of Jewelry Through the Ages
Jewelry has been coveted for centuries by many different cultures. Here’s a look at the history of jewelry, and how it’s evolved into a $348B industry.
Jewelry has been an integral aspect of human civilization for centuries, but it was the discovery and subsequent spread of precious metals and gemstones which really changed the game.
In today’s infographic from Menē, we visualize how the uses and symbolism of jewelry have evolved across time and space to become the industry we’re familiar with today.
Antique, Yet Ageless
There isn’t a single corner of the world that’s untouched by the influence of jewelry.
- Ancient Egypt
Gold accompanied the affluent into the afterlife – the famous 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb was filled to the brim with gold jewelry.
- Ancient Greece and Rome
Jewelry was used practically, and as a protection against evil. The gold olive wreath design was highly popular during this time.
Both men and women in the Sumer civilization wore intricate pieces of jewelry, incorporating bright gems like agate, jasper, or lapis lazuli.
The aristocracy in Aztec culture wore gold jewelry with gemstones to demonstrate their rank. The jewelry also doubled up as godly sacrifices.
- Ancient India
The Mughal Empire introduced the combination of gemstones with gold and silver. Today, pure gold jewelry is often gifted to new brides for financial security.
- Ancient China
Both rich and poor wore jade jewelry for its durable and protective properties. Pure gold jewelry is making a fashion comeback, doubling as a form of investment.
Modern Jewelry: At a Crossroads
Today, jewelry is at once the very same and vastly different from what it used to be.
The industry is worth upwards of $348 billion per year, and it’s not hard to see why. As an alternative asset, jewelry has grown 138% in value over the last decade – only outperformed by classic cars, rare coins, and fine wine.
However, perceptions of jewelry vastly differ. It’s not a stretch to say that Western jewelry buyers are enamored with diamonds, given their enduring association with special occasions – but it’s interesting to note how that ideal was fabricated.
The Invention of Diamonds
The De Beers Group is well known for making diamonds great again. In the early 1900s, the company had already monopolized the diamond trade and stabilized the market, but they faced the challenge of marketing diamonds to consumers at all income levels.
The average American considered diamonds an extravagance, preferring to spend money on cars and appliances instead. The concept of engagement rings existed, but weren’t widely adopted. The #1 slogan of the century – “A Diamond is Forever” – transformed all that.
Even as more companies like Tiffany and Co and Cartier entered the playing field, De Beers had set a successful industry standard. But there’s a catch – diamonds are actually:
- Not all that rare in nature
- Intrinsically low in value
- Easily replicated in a lab
- Decreasing in sales
Despite these caveats, the popularity of diamonds illustrate how Western consumers do not approach jewelry in the same way as Eastern economies, where its function as a store of wealth persists.
The Eastern Gold Standard
In Eastern economies, jewelry often takes the form of pure gold. The reasons behind this difference are surprisingly pragmatic: gold is considered a secure and innate store of wealth that maintains its purchasing value over decades, allowing families to pass wealth from generation to generation.
The rich history of the precious metal has made it a sought-after commodity for centuries, and China and India drive more than half of global gold jewelry demand every year:
|Year||Share of Demand (India + China)||Total Global Jewelry Demand (tonnes)|
Source: Gold Hub – Values have been rounded up to the nearest tonne.
Why are Eastern cultures so attracted to the properties of pure gold?
Part 2 of this series will show why gold is the world’s most incredible metal, and why it’s coveted by billions of people.
Markets5 months ago
The Jeff Bezos Empire in One Giant Chart
Maps7 months ago
Mercator Misconceptions: Clever Map Shows the True Size of Countries
Advertising4 months ago
Meet Generation Z: The Newest Member to the Workforce
Misc6 months ago
24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality
Advertising3 months ago
How the Tech Giants Make Their Billions
Technology5 months ago
The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web
Environment4 months ago
The World’s 25 Largest Lakes, Side by Side
Chart of the Week5 months ago
Chart: The World’s Largest 10 Economies in 2030