Risk Premia Forecasts: Major Asset Classes - Friday, July 2

The expected risk premium for the Global Market Index’s (GMI) resumed an upward drift in June, rising to an annualized 6.0%. That’s up fractionally from 5.9% in the previous month. The forecast, which reflects the long-run outlook for GMI’s return over the “risk-free” rate, is still well below the realized risk premium in recent history, based on trailing 10-year annualized results.

GMI is an unmanaged, market-value-weighted portfolio that holds all the major asset classes (except cash) and is a theoretical benchmark of the “optimal” portfolio. Using standard finance theory as a guide, this portfolio is considered an optimal strategy for the average investor with an infinite time horizon. Accordingly, GMI is useful as a baseline to begin research on asset allocation and portfolio design. GMI’s history suggests that this benchmark portfolio’s performance is competitive with active asset-allocation strategies overall, especially after adjusting for risk and trading costs.

Using short-term momentum and medium-term mean-reversion market factors (defined below) to adjust the forecast reduces GMI’s ex ante risk premium to an annualized 5.0%.

All forward estimates will likely be inaccurate in some degree, but GMI’s long-run projections are expected to be relatively reliable vs. the forecasts for the individual asset classes that are used to generate the benchmark’s forecast. Predictions for the individual market components are subject to greater uncertainty vs. aggregating the forecasts for projecting GMI’s risk premia — a process that may cancel out some of the errors in the underlying market estimates.

For historical context, here’s a chart of rolling 10-year annualized risk premia for GMI, US stocks (Russell 3000), and US Bonds (Bloomberg Aggregate Bond) through last month. Note that the performance of GMI’s realized 10-year risk-premium (red line) in recent history has been relatively steady and is currently 7.4% annualized. That’s below the previous peak of 8%-plus. The current risk premium forecast for GMI — 6.0% — suggests that multi-asset-class strategies will generate lower returns relative to results posted in recent years.

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Disclosures: None.

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