The Traditional 60/40 Portfolio: Why This Did Not Work in 2022

John Stanton |

From our January Client Note

The Traditional 60/40 Portfolio:  Why This Did Not Work in 2022

60-%-40%, is the widely held belief by the investment community, that an investment portfolio should hold 60% stocks and 40% bonds.

60%-40% was simple, and supposedly stable.  Investors who lacked the skill, and/or time to analyze    more complicated and usually riskier investment strategies, could follow this simple rule.

Since many other individual and institutional investors followed the same strategy, this creates a feeling of peace of mind, safety in numbers, but also sets the stage for huge disappointment and losses when it suddenly failed in 2022.

The way the strategy is supposed to work,  when stocks are in a bear market, like we are at present, ultra safe Treasury bonds will serve to cushion the fall of the total portfolio’s value. But, with the rapid increase in interest rates, both Fed and market induced,  bonds are now in their first bear market since 1994.   he justification for 60%-40%, of course, was that when stocks are in a bear market, as at present, ultra-safe Treasury bonds will serve as a safe haven and cushion the fall in the total portfolio’s value. But with bonds now in their first bear market in decades, a portfolio of 60% in the S&P 500 index and 40% in 10-year Treasury notes has

No Place To Hide

2022 was not the only year the 60/40 portfolio failed.   In 1937, 1974, 1930, 1920 and 1893, 60%-40% portfolios fell but 10-year Treasury note returns offset some of the declines in stocks.  And in 1931,1907 and 1917, small losses in Treasurys offset some of the big drops in equity prices.  Investor strategies made this year’s losses in 60%-40% portfolios especially painful because few consider any other investments besides long stocks and long bonds.  In equity bear markets associated with recessions, there are no sectors in which stock investors can hide.   All sectors suffer equally in bad times,  including the so-called defensive sectors, things that people buy in good times and bad.


Places that Thrived

There are, however, were places to not only hide in the ongoing equity bear market but also make money.   As our strategy update readers will recall, starting in January 2022, we recommended raising cash, selling growth stocks, initiating a small short position in the S&P 500, as a hedge to a core position of equities in productive, well managed, businesses.

Our fixed income strategies were focused on maturing bonds/CDs/treasuries in a maturity ladder, and were positioned for increasing interest rates, to cool the inflation.  As rates increased across the yield curve, maturing positions were redeployed to higher yielding bonds/CDs/treasuries, in our portfolios.  And, based on the increasing weight of evidence, recession was anticipated towards year end, beginning of 2023. 

General real estate that relied on mortgage financing was going to cause a slowdown of demand in a very hot, at the time, residential real estate market.  Conservatively managed select commercial real estate, particularly in the logistics, digital warehouse, and agricultural space, did well for 2022.

For the complete client review,  review our process, introduce the investment team, and how our strategies are positioned going into the New Year,  schedule a call with our founder, John Stanton.

John is the founder of The Stanton Group WP. With more than three decades of experience in the financial services industry, he serves as an advisor for clients, focusing on financial planning the investment research and strategies to support their financial plan. Based in Naperville, Illinois, John serves clients in Naperville, Plainfield, Darien, Aurora, Geneva, St Charles, and throughout the Chicagoland area.

The Stanton Group WP provides investment advisory services through SeaCrest Wealth Management LLC, (the “Advisor”) a Registered Investment Advisor. Information in this message is for the intended recipient[s] only. Please visit our website  for important disclosures.

 SeaCrest Wealth Management, LLC (CRD 147092) is a Registered Investment Advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, headquartered at 3010 Westchester Avenue Purchase, NY 10577.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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