The Best of Strategies for the Worst of Times: Can Portfolios be Crisis Proofed?
26 Pages Posted: 31 May 2019
Date Written: May 17, 2019
In the late stages of long bull markets, a popular question arises: What steps can an investor take to mitigate the impact of the inevitable large equity correction? However, hedging equity portfolios is notoriously difficult and expensive. We analyze the performance of different tools that investors could deploy. For example, continuously holding short-dated S&P 500 put options is the most reliable defensive method but also the most costly strategy. Holding ‘safe-haven’ US Treasury bonds produces a positive carry, but may be an unreliable crisis-hedge strategy, as the post-2000 negative bond-equity correlation is a historical rarity. Long gold and long credit protection portfolios sit in between puts and bonds in terms of both cost and reliability. Dynamic strategies that performed well during past drawdowns include: futures time-series momentum (which benefits from extended equity sell-offs) and a quality strategy that takes long/short positions in the highest/lowest quality company stocks (which benefits from a ‘flight-to-quality’ effect during crises). We examine both large equity drawdowns and recessions. We also provide some out-of-sample evidence of the defensive performance of these strategies relative to an earlier, related paper.
Keywords: Crisis hedge, Crisis alpha, Recessions, Flight to quality, Drawdown, Downside risk, Portfolio protection, Portfolio hedging, Insurance, Put options, Option-based hedging, Portfolio insurance, Futures, Trend following, Momentum, Quality, Profitability, Gold, Positive convexity, Safe-haven investments
JEL Classification: E32, E44, G01, G11, G12, G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation