I clearly used way too much jargon. Here’s a much easier way to think about this:
Broadly speaking, there are four big buckets of assets: stocks, bonds, commodities and gold (I realize gold is often classified as a commodity, I’ll explain this in a second). Each asset performs differently based on the underlying direction of the economy.
Looking at the economy itself, there are two big factors: growth and inflation. Both growth and inflation are either accelerating or decelerating. If you think about this visually, imagine four different quadrants:
Quadrant 1: Growth accelerating, inflation decelerating
Quadrant 2: Growth accelerating, inflation accelerating
Quadrant 3: Growth decelerating, inflation accelerating
Quadrant 4: Growth decelerating, inflation decelerating
In quadrant 1 (e.g. US in the 90s), the economy races ahead while central banks are fearful of raising rates due to low inflation. Stocks associated with high growth (e.g. technology, biotech, consumer discretionary, etc.) do really well.
In quadrant 2, the central bank is more aggressive about raising rates thanks to accelerating inflation. In this scenario, stocks associated with high growth and inflation (e.g. financial services, industrials, oil/gas, etc.) do well. We’re probably in a mild version of this quadrant today. Commodities also do very well. Gold and bonds perform very poorly in this scenario.
In quadrant 3, most stocks do poorly. As central banks are fearful of raising rates into a slowing economy, gold tends to shine in this scenario. Most types of bonds also do reasonably well.
In quadrant 4, both growth and inflation are decelerating. Bonds do the best in this scenario followed by gold. Stocks and commodities mostly underperform.
Once you get growth and inflation right, you’ll quickly understand which way the wind is blowing (which can help you invest accordingly). More importantly, you should hold a relatively smaller proportion of highly volatile assets relative to more stable assets. So in general, you should have a bias towards bonds over stocks/commodities or gold. The term ‘risk parity’ means adjusting your portfolio based on the underlying risk of what you are holding.
That turned into quite the monologue but hope it was helpful!