The Best “Tail Risk Protection”? …… Cash
- Posted by ToddSullivan
- on July 26th, 2011
ValuePlays favorite James Montier is back this time talking about the folly of the current “Tail Risk Protection” fad. He shows that a strategy of simply 75% $SPY 25% cash would have performed better before and since the 2008-09 crisis. A note: This also assumes the 25% cash investor made no opportunistic investments with that cash during the 2009 sell off. Had he/she, the out performance would have been multiples of what is listed here.
Tail risk protection appears to be one of many investment fads du jour. All too often those seeking tail risk protection appear to be motivated by the fear of missing out (not fear at all, but greed). However, the surge of tail risk products may well not be the hoped-for panacea. Indeed, they may even contain the seeds of their own destruction (something we often encounter in finance – witness portfolio insurance, etc). If the price of tail risk insurance is driven up too high, it simply won’t benefit its purchasers.
When considering tail risk protection, investors must start by defining the tail risk they are seeking to protect themselves against. This sounds obvious, but often seems to get scant attention in the tail risk discussion. Once you have identified the risk, you can start to think about how you would like to protect yourself against that risk. In many situations, cash is a severely underappreciated tail risk hedge. The hardest element of tail risk protection is likely to be timing. It is clear that a permanent allocation is likely to do more harm than good in many situations.
When it comes to timing tail risk protection, a long-term value-based approach and an emphasis on absolute standards of value, coupled with a broad mandate (a wide opportunity set, or, investment flexibility, if you prefer) seems to offer the best hope.
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The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.
Todd's investing strategy is essentially long with the rare short. He seeks to buy undervalued issues with an upcoming catalyst that will help them realized.... More »
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