Bridgewater's Risk-Parity Shift Jolts a $400 Billion Quant Trade
Comment of the Day

September 02 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bridgewater's Risk-Parity Shift Jolts a $400 Billion Quant Trade

This article by Justina Lee for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

“It is pretty obvious that with interest rates near zero and being held stable by central banks, bonds can provide neither returns nor risk reduction,” a team led by Co-Chief Investment Officer Bob Prince wrote in the July report.

Bridgewater’s famous All Weather portfolio has therefore been moving into gold and inflation-linked bonds, diversifying the countries it invests in and finding more stocks with stable cash flow.

The idea is to replicate the long-term positive returns typically generated by bonds while finding alternative ways to hedge a downturn in stocks, especially if higher inflation upends low-yielding nominal debt.

Risky Business
Bridgewater’s conviction that ultra-low yields are a game-changer for risk parity will resonate with many on Wall Street, who have also been fretting over the fate of traditional portfolios that allocate 60% to stocks and 40% to bonds.

According to the firm, about 80% of local-currency government bonds have been trading below 1%, which limits the room for such notes to rise in value during a bout of risk aversion since investors can simply hoard cash instead. That, combined with the potential for losses if yields jump from record lows, means that the world of government debt is potentially losing its function as a safety valve in portfolios.

Eoin Treacy's view

Risk Parity is based on the correlation between rising stock prices and rising bond yields. The logic is that when investors are worried about stock market returns, they park excess cash in bonds. Over the years multiple strategies have evolved to size positions according to this correlation.

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