Asset Allocation

2016 Capital Market Assumptions for Major Asset Classes

Topics - Asset Allocation Strategic Asset Allocation Portfolio Construction

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2016 Capital Market Assumptions for Major Asset Classes

This issue updates our multi-year expected return assumptions for major stock and bond markets, and investigates methods for estimating expected returns for credits and commodities. Compared with historical averages of value metrics, we are still very much in a world of low expected returns.

  • Our current estimate for U.S. stocks’ long-run real return remains near 4%, lower than in European and emerging markets. In the U.S. and several other markets, modest increases in earnings and dividend yields over the past year have been offset by reductions in forecast earnings growth.
  • For 10-year U.S. Treasuries, our long-run real return estimate remains near 0.5%. From a century-long historical perspective, both equity and bond expected returns remain exceptionally low, especially when taken together.
  • This year we include long-run expected returns for credits and commodities, explaining our chosen methodology for each asset class. For U.S. investment grade and high yield credit, we estimate real returns of around 1% and 3%, respectively. For a risk-weighted portfolio of commodities, we estimate a long-run real return of around 3%. We also discuss return expectations for alternative risk premia and cash.

This report again highlights the low expected returns in traditional asset classes. It also expands our menu of assumptions for additional sources of return that may prove valuable in this challenging environment. We believe investors should diversify as much as constraints permit across many sources of expected returns.

This document has been provided to you solely for information purposes and does not constitute an offer or solicitation of an offer or any advice or recommendation to purchase any securities or other financial instruments and may not be construed as such. The factual information set forth herein has been obtained or derived from sources believed by the author and AQR Capital Management, LLC (“AQR”) to be reliable but it is not necessarily all-inclusive and is not guaranteed as to its accuracy and is not to be regarded as a representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the information’s accuracy or completeness, nor should the attached information serve as the basis of any investment decision. This document is not to be reproduced or redistributed to any other person. The information set forth herein has been provided to you as secondary information and should not be the primary source for any investment or allocation decision. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. 

This material is not research and should not be treated as research. This paper does not represent valuation judgments with respect to any financial instrument, issuer, security or sector that may be described or referenced herein and does not represent a formal or official view of AQR. The views expressed reflect the current views as of the date hereof and neither the author nor AQR undertakes to advise you of any changes in the views expressed herein. 

The information contained herein is only as current as of the date indicated, and may be superseded by subsequent market events or for other reasons. Charts and graphs provided herein are for illustrative purposes only. The information in this presentation has been developed internally and/or obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, neither AQR nor the author guarantees the accuracy, adequacy or completeness of such information. Nothing contained herein constitutes investment, legal, tax or other advice nor is it to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. There can be no assurance that an investment strategy will be successful. Historic market trends are not reliable indicators of actual future market behavior or future performance of any particular investment which may differ materially, and should not be relied upon as such. 

The information in this paper may contain projections or other forward-looking statements regarding future events, targets, forecasts or expectations regarding the strategies described herein, and is only current as of the date indicated. There is no assurance that such events or targets will be achieved, and may be significantly different from that shown here. The information in this document, including statements concerning financial market trends, is based on current market conditions, which will fluctuate and may be superseded by subsequent market events or for other reasons.