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COVID-19

The best investment portfolio for these times is the one you can live with

David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon Mar 17, 2020
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Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

The best investment portfolio for these times is the one you can live with

David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon Mar 17, 2020
Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

In another two weeks, it’ll be the end of the financial quarter and statements from investment companies will start coming for those in a position to have retirement savings.

What if you need your money in two years, 10 years or 25 years? It makes a huge difference about how to think about this coronavirus quarter.

Veteran investor Barry Ritholtz, chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, makes sense of this moment with a quick tip on how we should be thinking about things.

“In fact, those are three very different portfolios,” Ritholtz told Marketplace’s David Brancaccio. “If you have to, have to, have your money in two years, and you want to take very little risk, you’re going to be in a combination of money market funds, and some high quality corporates. And that’s a very low risk, very low return portfolio that hopefully just keeps ahead of inflation.

“Historically, we rarely see 10 years go by without a positive return. So a portfolio that makes more sense for a person who’s going to need that cash in a decade is going to be something like a 60/40 classic portfolio, that’s 60% broad market indexes and 40% bonds. You should see a better-than-inflation return in most 10 year periods.

“And then 25 years — 25 years is a long time in the stock market. And you would want to be pretty aggressive, either 70/30 or 75/25 stocks and bonds. The reason I never recommend people go all stock, even though that portfolio would do better, is exactly because of times like this, or ’08/’09, or 2000. You know, the optimal portfolio isn’t the one that returns the most money, but it’s the one that you can live with. And I can guarantee you that people who are in all stock portfolios, they’re having a hard time looking at a market that was hitting all time highs a month ago, and now is down 30% or more. We’ve seen $20 trillion in wealth disappear.

“Now, it’s only temporary. My best guess is once we get through the coronavirus, it’ll come snapping back. But if you’re up all night stressing over it, and the only way you relieve that stress is selling, well, then you’re not going to participate when the market recovers. You have to take the good with the bad, and this too shall pass.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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