Investors may require more than a few Pepcid AC tablets to digest their losses this past quarter. Indeed, the 7/1/2011-9/30/2011 period represented the worst showing since Q4, 2008.
That said, it may not be particularly instructive to recount the -12%+ declines for U.S. benchmarks; it’s probably not helpful to recall the -20% declines for Europe and certain emerging markets either. On the other hand, the last 5-10 trading sessions may provide ample guidance about what to expect in October.
For instance, the spot price of gold dropped from nearly $1900 per ounce to $1625 per ounce. New margin requirements on commodities have been cited, as well as hedge fund profit-taking. Yet it may also be a form of “window dressing.”
Typically, when we think of institutional money managers “dressing the portfolio windows,” we expect them to acquire shares of year-to-date winners. Buying shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) before the end of a quarter comes to mind. At the same time, some advisers want to demonstrate profitability in round-trip trades. And since the vast majority of round-trips may be losers right now, selling some of the success stories -- a la selling the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) -- may be a way to achieve that end.
For those who think the sell-off in gold is a sign of a gold bubble imploding, think again. Physical gold holdings have hardly budged. And retail investors are holding firm to the notion that gold belongs in a portfolio, especially with the weak monetary policies of developed nations.
Another area of the ETF market that hasn’t been tossed out with the bathwater are Dividend ETFs. With the 10-year treasury yielding below 2%, and a number of Dividend ETFs offering upwards of 3.5%, it does seem unlikely that downgraded treasuries can offer enough safety or yield or “cap app”. And some ETFs serve dividend-like yields without the upfront name, like PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF (NYSEARCA:SPLV).
If Dividend ETFs are still too volatile for your appetite, PowerShares Chinese Yuan Dim Sum Bond (NYSEARCA:DSUM) may be a worthy alternative. DSUM has a coupon of 3% on short-term bonds of roughly 3.3 years in average maturity length. Yields on U.S. debt at this maturity are negligible. And assuming the Chinese government lets its currency float a bit more freely against the dollar, one might readily anticipate a 4%-5% annual currency gain in this yuan-denominated holding.
7%-8% in yuan-denominated, short-term bonds? I think it can happen!