An Argument for a 100% Equity Portfolio

David Levine, formally in charge of fixed income for Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, writes in the New York Times that “the best asset allocation, nearly all the time, is 100 percent stocks.” He notes Warren Buffet’s advice to allocate 90% of assets to equities, suggesting this may be a tempering because “many investors simply cannot stomach the volatility that a 100 percent equity portfolio entails.” Levine, despite his background in fixed income, says, “even if you are very risk-averse, allocate at least 75 percent to stocks.” He notes that over the last 90 years “stocks have outperformed long-term Treasury bonds, on average, by 4.4 percentage points a year” and outperformed intermediate- and short-term Treasuries by 4.8% and 6.6% respectively. He observes that, over 30 years, “if your investment does 4.4 percentage points better per year than the next person’s, you will have more than three and one half times as much money to spend as they will.” Over rolling 30-year periods, Levine says, “stocks have always outperformed Treasury bills and intermediates, and have only rarely underperformed long-term Treasuries.” Further, over five-year periods, stocks outperformed fixed income categories 71-76% of the time. He also offers logical justification for expecting the superiority of stocks to continue into the future, primarily that “the intrinsic value of your equity investments rises over time” due to ever-increasing economic potential driven by knowledge and technology, among other forces.

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