It's Amazing How Well Dumb Things Work II

Harry Long profile picture
Harry Long


  • Investors often make simple things complex.
  • If it's stupid, and it works, it's not stupid.
  • We can improve dumb rules logically.

Rather than getting into complex futures-based approaches involving risk parity theories, etc, let's examine a simple, dumb, do-it-yourself approach using ETFs.

Here are the rules:

I. Go long SPY (NYSEARCA:SPY), GLD (GLD), and TLT (TLT) with 33.33% dollar weightings for each.

II. Rebalance annually to maintain the equal dollar weightings between the positions.

The logic is that SPY gives cheap stock market exposure. GLD gives monetary inflation exposure. TLT provides potential deflation exposure through long duration bonds, while handily moving inversely to stocks (on average, but not always).

In a stagflation in which both stocks and long duration government bonds drop, gold has a good chance of rising.

Here are the latest updated results in a log scale:

As we previously observed, the approach has higher returns and lower drawdowns across an entire bull and bear market cycle than the S&P 500, along with a better Sharpe. The strategy's worst year is 2013, at -3.1%, which is probably enough to get most portfolio managers fired when the stock market has a 30%+ year (even though such an investor would have looked like a hero in 2008). However, a portfolio manager who employed this decidedly humble, simple approach, would actually have been doing well for clients as a fiduciary.

The recent market volatility has served as an interesting walk-forward test. YTD, the outperformance of this dumb strategy has been excellent on a drawdown basis:

I appreciate this dumb strategy's low 0.20 correlation to the broad equity markets, conservative drawdown, and excellent Sharpe.

The recent equity market volatility has been another validation of the strategy's robustness:

I am sure that most investors would have appreciated a less than 1% drawdown compared to what they probably experienced.

This dumb strategy index is perfect for institutions which want to create an ETFs which has

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Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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