The Buy and Hold Bet

The biggest bet that buy and hold investors of a given country are making is that their government stays committed to increase, preserve and protect their citizen’s wealth. It is a combination of regulation, property rights, human capital, investor sentiment and global capital flows.

Buy and hold worked out great for US investors in the last 30-years. Inflation was mostly under control and they enjoyed a dollarized world with the rest of the world sending their surpluses to the US. But It wasn’t always like this.

The year 1980 was a turning point for US bonds and equities. Not that there weren’t hiccups along the way – Black Friday, tech bust, GFC, etc – but it was the beginning of a huge tail-wind that continues to blow even today. Compare the simulation results of pre-1980 equity returns vs. what came next:

Pre-1980: 5% possibility of loss in a buy-and-hold portfolio
Post-1980: 0% possibility of loss in a buy-and-hold portfolio

The post 1980 data-set is so skewed that when you use the entire data-set – 1964 through 2019 – for running the simulation, you end up with a 0% loss as well.

1964-2019: 0% possibility of loss in a buy-and-hold portfolio

With this data-set, it is easy to conclude that a buy-the-market “passive” buy-and-hold strategy is superior to everything else. But that would be a very aggressive conclusion to draw.

There are quite a few countries with equity returns (since 1993) in the low single digits: GREECE, CHINA, JORDAN, JAPAN, IRELAND, AUSTRIA, PAKISTAN.

CHINA, a country that grew its GDP in double digits, was a very poor equity investment. And JAPAN was the world’s second largest economy in 1995 but their equities are a joke on twitter.

Only DENMARK, USA and SWITZERLAND had an extremely small chance of posting negative buy-and-hold returns.

Out of the 43 Country specific MSCI indices we analyzed, half had more than a 10% chance of giving negative returns to buy-and-hold investors. India had a 6% chance.

6% possibility of loss in a buy-and-hold portfolio

Any analysis done on US stocks should be taken with a pinch of salt. The rest of the world does not work that way.

This post expands on an earlier one on the same topic.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.