Alternative Investing

Can Risk Parity Outperform If Yields Rise?

Topics - Alternative Investing Risk Parity

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Can Risk Parity Outperform If Yields Rise?

AQR White Paper

Risk parity investing is, in our view, a reasonable investment strategy which emphasizes diversification over concentration. It is not, as some critics have said, simply “leveraging bonds.” We believe there is strong theoretical and empirical backing to suggest that more diversified portfolios, like risk parity portfolios, can produce superior risk-adjusted returns relative to concentrated portfolios.

Over the long term, we believe risk parity persistently offers a small edge that can compound to a large advantage over time. That edge has held up historically, even during long periods of moderately rising interest rates and even if that cumulative rise in rates is substantial.

To be sure, risk parity investing is not a panacea. If all asset classes go down, a risk parity portfolio will lose money. When equities are soaring, it may do very well but will likely underperform 60/40 equity/bond portfolios and other strategies that load up on equity risk. When interest rates rise sharply — and, more generally, when multiple nonequity asset classes perform poorly — risk parity will, at times, struggle to keep up with equity-dominated portfolios.

However, as this paper demonstrates, risk parity may outperform strategies dependent on equity risk in the long run, even though a prolonged period of rising rates. Anyone evaluating risk parity should consider a range of scenarios, including the equity crash that severely hurts 60/40 investors, as well as more-common situations where some asset classes perform reasonably well and others perform not so well. In these more-common scenarios, diversification would provide meaningful benefit to a portfolio.

This document is not intended to, and does not relate specifically to any investment strategy or product that AQR offers. It is being provided merely to provide a framework to assist in the implementation of an investor’s own analysis and an investor’s own view on the topic discussed herein.

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. Diversification does not eliminate the risk of experiencing investment losses.

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.