Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Best Asset in a Time of Volatility

All markets are volatile these days.  Stocks are gyrating, bonds are falling as interest rates increase, oil is bouncing up and then down, bitcoin has fallen all year, and even the real estate market seems to be going wobbly.  Gold and silver have been slipping away.  And foreign markets look even gloomier.

Investors naturally look for opportunities when prices fluctuate.  Whether you're a buyer or a short seller, price movements create the potential for profit.  Volatility is gut wrenching if you're taking losses, and can stimulate panicky selling when prices are low.  But it can be exhilarating if it looks like a lucky break.

That's why cash is often the best asset to hold in a time of volatility.  It gives you the means to take advantage of fortuitous price movements, while its stability insulates you from the emotional roller coaster that often drives people to sell when prices are dropping.  Don't think that you have to remain fully invested all the time.  What you have to do is remain unemotional, as emotion is the enemy of careful investing.  A nice, comforting cushion of cash can prevent an unwanted flood of adrenaline.

Cash may appear to have a low rate of return, with greedy banks still paying miserly rates of interest on deposits even though interest rates have been rising.  But cash also offers the potential to profit from price volatility.  You can dive into an asset when its price is low and make a bundle when it rebounds.   That potential makes the effective return from cash much higher.  So don't be afraid to hold a lot of cash in a time of volatility.  That's when it's an investor's best friend.