How To Invest Cash When Markets Are Volatile

According to AllianceBernstein, the opportunity cost of sticking to liquidity is rather high: over time, most of the asset classes are expected to do better

Lower expenses and fears about valuations and financial markets' volatility have prompted liquidity to record levels. At the end of February, in Italy, resident customer deposits amounted to 1,746 billion, 10% more than the figure recorded the previous year. In times of uncertainty, liquidity is reassuring, but short-term security has a price, strategists at AllianceBernstein Holding L.P. AB remind. With interest rates at historic lows and negative rates prevailing in many developed markets, liquidity pays almost nothing. On the contrary, by clearly defining long-term goals, they explain, investors can safely re-employ unused liquidity, despite uncertainty about the path to recovery.

High Valuations Do Not Always Prelude Disaster: For many investors, the high valuations reached by financial markets represent an obstacle to investing liquidity. In particular, the U.S. stock exchanges have marked new historical highs. However, AllianceBernstein's analysis reveals that equity investments have provided solid returns over time, even to investors who entered the market when the shares appeared overvalued. Starting from 1950, investing equal amounts in U.S. shares each time the market reached a new peak would have resulted in an average annual return of 9.6% — 1.9% less than it could have been obtained by investing at each bear market bottom.

Three Questions To Find Appropriate Investments: Investors should consider a broad array of active options suited to their individual needs, risk appetites and personal views about markets. In order to identify the right investment options, AllianceBernstein suggests asking oneself firstly, whether the investment horizon is shorter-term or longer-term, secondly, whether investments must be liquid and accessible or if one is able to tolerate illiquidity, and thirdly, whether one prefers consensus opportunities or is comfortable investing in unpopular, out-of-favour, assets that may offer better valuations.

Choosing Between Consensus And Contrarian: Investing in growth stocks, for example, was especially successful — and popular — in 2020, but this part of the market poses the most acute valuation concerns. In fact, high-yield fixed income offers access to an asset class that tends to be uncorrelated with equities and offers better downside risk reduction, as well as higher return potential than the broader bond market. On the other hand, for those willing to swim against the tide, underperforming value stocks which have been traded at a discount compared to growth stocks could trigger a more marked rebound if the economic recovery accelerates. Even non-US stocks and small-caps often offer more attractive valuations than US peers. Investors with longer-term time frames might want to explore illiquid options such as private equity portfolios and hedge funds, or they could include contrarian options such as securitized assets and private credit.

It Is Impossible To Forecast Market Reversals, Better Stay Invested: AllianceBernstein experts' conclusion is that, over time, most asset classes are likely to do better than cash, especially at today’s rates. And since it’s nearly impossible to time market inflection points, it’s better to be invested in the market rather than not — even in today’s fluid conditions. With risk-aware, active, investing approaches, investors can redeploy cash with conviction to selectively capture diverse sources of return potential, even as concerns about the future remain unresolved.

This article originally appeared on and was translated from Italian to English. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited. For news coverage in Italian or Spanish, check out Benzinga Italia and Benzinga España. 



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