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Conquer biases, build resilience: Guide to all-weather investing


In 1976, Nobel laureate economist Robert E. Lucas Jr. introduced a groundbreaking concept in macroeconomic theory known as the “Lucas critique.” This theory highlighted the limitations of economic models in predicting outcomes when government policies change. Lucas argued that when expectations about government policy shift, the traditional models used for forecasting fiscal and monetary policies become ineffective.

This concept remains as relevant today as it was nearly five decades ago, providing a critical perspective on the various economic outcomes currently being considered:

  • Stagflation (higher inflation and lower growth)
  • Disinflation (lower inflation and stable or higher growth)
  • Deflation (lower inflation and no growth or recession)

Understanding these dynamics is crucial for navigating the uncertain economic, political, geopolitical, and financial market outlook. The potential impact on asset prices varies across these scenarios, making it essential for investors to grasp these nuances.

Recent US economic data, including the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and retail sales, significantly impacted market sentiment. Weaker-than-expected retail sales and marginally lower inflation data pushed equities to all-time highs, lowered yields, devalued the dollar, and boosted gold and commodities prices. This environment has firmed up expectations of Federal Reserve rate cuts in the coming months.

In light of these unpredictable outcomes—whether we face stagflation, disinflation, or deflation—it is prudent to maintain a diversified, “all-weather” portfolio. This approach helps manage risk and ensures better preparedness for various market conditions.

An effective all-weather portfolio should include:

  • Traditional market assets: Equities and fixed income
  • Inflation-protecting assets: Diversified physical assets and commodities
  • Aspirational assets: Alternative or private assets

Such a diversified strategy reduces human behavioral biases, improves risk-adjusted returns, and enhances overall portfolio performance. It also prevents reactive decision-making based on short-term market events or trends, which can often reverse quickly.

Lucas’ critique reminds us to be cautious about “arbitrary” policy changes and their potential impacts on economic outcomes. This principle is especially relevant ahead of significant events like election results in major democracies. Policymakers must consider changing public expectations—whether rational or irrational—when drafting future economic policies, as these expectations can dramatically alter outcomes.

In an era of economic uncertainty, understanding the implications of the Lucas critique is essential. By maintaining a well-diversified portfolio and being mindful of changing expectations, investors and policymakers can better navigate the complex landscape ahead. Effective investing requires a counterintuitive approach: buying what you hate and selling what you love. This strategy, while challenging, is crucial for long-term success.


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