Richard Bernstein: Income-Chasing a Losing Approach

At a recent press luncheon sponsored by Eaton Vance, Bernstein Advisor CEO Richard Bernstein argued that financial advisors and investors who have “spent the last two years looking for income are big-time losers—they just don’t know it yet.” This according to a recent article in Financial Advisor magazine.

Bernstein said that back in 2000, “advisors didn’t want income,” but that after a decade of rock-bottom rates, income has become the primary focus for “yield-starved clients.” He commented that, since June 2016, many have been “worried about inflation returning” and, since then, bonds have fallen by between 2 and 3 percent, stocks have surged by 45 percent and commodities are up about 15 percent. “People don’t realize it yet,” he asserted, “but when they start looking at total returns” they will realize that income-chasing was a misguided approach.

According to Bernstein, “bonds are as risky as tech in 2000.” He believes that investors are suffering from misconceptions, primarily regarding tech and emerging markets stocks. “People say they are high-growth investments,” he explained, adding that in reality these are “deep-cyclical investments.” Emerging markets, he said, are a global growth play. Technology, he added, has gone for “entire decades like the 1980s and the 2000-2009 era when it underperformed the major indexes.”

As for China, Bernstein argued that investors might be overly bearish. “There is a hard-core consensus that China is toast,” he said, adding, “I wouldn’t be so sure.”