With the broad U.S. equity markets off their most recent highs, some have started to draw parallels to 2008, and some are even starting to prepare their portfolios for a market correction.1 Although we do not believe the markets are headed for a substantial correction or a repeat of 2008, we do think it is important for investors to learn from the past.
One of the most crucial outcomes from 2008 was that many investors became more aware of the importance of downside protection and true diversification. Traditional allocations, as it turned out, generally did not provide enough diversification, and as the markets unwound, correlations between traditional asset classes increased.
Managed Futures Can Provide Multilevel Diversification
Like during the 2008 sell-off, correlations can also increase during positively trending markets, which is what we have witnessed over the past few years, ultimately decreasing the diversification benefits traditional allocations may provide. Institutional investors have long utilized managed futures strategies as a way to achieve diversification and performance potential in almost any market. Consider some of the benefits managed futures provide:
• They are usually non- or negatively correlated to traditional assets.
• Unlike long-only investments, managed futures employ long/short strategies designed to profit from both rising and falling markets.
• They have the potential to perform in both inflationary and deflationary environments.
The DTI Index Has Performed—Even During a Crisis
As illustrated below, the Diversified Trends Indicator™ (DTI®) Index has delivered consistent performance over the past 10 years. More important, the DTI Index performance held up during the 2008 financial crisis as correlations between equity and fixed income securities tended to increase and everything moved down together.
DTI Index Performance
• Performance During a Crisis – The DTI Index was up 8.29% over the 2008 calendar year, impressive when compared to the S&P 500 Index return of -37.00%. During October 2008, the DTI Index was up 10.41%, compared to the S&P 500 Index return of -16.79%.
Low Correlations to Broad-Based Indexes
Over the past 10 years, the DTI Index had a correlation of -0.25 and -0.17 to the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index and the S&P 500 Index, respectively. To put these numbers in perspective, the MSCI EAFE Index had a correlation of 0.12 and 0.89 to the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index and the S&P 500 Index, respectively. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index had a correlation of 0.13 and 0.79 to the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index and the S&P 500 Index, respectively.2