The death of 60-40
The classic diversification model was the "60-40" portfolio: 60% in equities and 40% in bonds. This structure had been highly successful over the long-term, returning an average of 7.1% annually for the 10 years to end-2021 and 9% per annum for the 100 years to that date.
Then 2022 arrived, a game-changing year. The annualized return for 60-40 collapsed to an annualized loss of 34.4% by the end of October 2022, the worst result in a century, as equities and bonds fell simultaneously, prompting many investors to question the model’s validity.
Annual 60-40 portfolio performance over the last century
Those questions continue to be asked today as resurgent inflation combined with sluggish economies raise the threat of stagflation. Analysts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) see global worldwide GDP growth slowing to 3% in 2023 and stagnating in 2024, well below the annual average of 3.8% seen from 2000-2019. At the same time, global inflation is projected to stay at the level of 7.7% in 2023 and 6.1% in 2024.
Given this outlook, Le Bijou believes investors should consider adding real estate to their common 60-40 mix.
As the historical data shows, even when returns decline, real estate has been less affected than equities and relatively quick to recover when economies improve. It is, therefore, one of the best ways to protect an investment portfolio from stagflation. In the chart below, note how Swiss annual real estate returns (the light blue line) have been much greater and more stable than those for equities (in dark blue) over the past 15 years. They have even been growing steadier than those for supposedly safe bonds (orange line).
Comparison of stocks vs. bonds vs. real estate annual returns in Switzerland
Besides, people will always need homes, regardless of the state of the economy or the markets, and limited supply helps real estate investors to thrive in almost any environment.