Is Now the Time to Add Commodities?

by Jeffrey M. Mercer , Mitchell Conover , Robert R. Johnson and Gerald R. Jensen

Excerpted from the Fall 2010 issue of The Journal of Investing.

With the recent increase in equity volatility, commodity investments have garnered significant attention from investors. Previous research has found substantial benefits associated with commodity investments, but there remains considerable uncertainty regarding the consistency and general applicability of those benefits for equity investors.

We provide evidence that helps to resolve some of the uncertainty with regard to commodity investments. Specifically, based on a sample period of 36 years, we show substantial benefits to commodity investments regardless of the equity style an investor pursues. To obtain a significant benefit, however, requires a commodity allocation of greater than 5%. Interestingly, adding a commodity exposure enhances an equity portfolio’s return only during periods when the Federal Reserve is increasing interest rates, which is consistent with the belief that a major attraction of commodities is that they serve as an inflation hedge. Furthermore, an allocation to commodities in a tactical asset allocation using monetary conditions consistently outperforms both a strategic commodities allocation and an all-equity portfolio.

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Jeffrey M. Mercer , Ph.D., is a professor of finance at the Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University.
Mitchell Conover , Ph.D., CFA, is an associate professor of finance at the Robins School of Business, University of Richmond.
Robert R. Johnson , Ph.D., CFA, CAIA, is a professor of finance in the Heider College of Business at Creighton University.
Gerald R. Jensen , Ph.D., CFA, is a professor of finance at Northern Illinois University.


Andrew from New York posted over 3 years ago:

The article intuitively makes sense and seems timely given the current low interest rate environment. Currently conservative investors are suffering the low interest rate environment. When rates rise, then what? Are commodities an alternative to high stock market allocations?

Norman from South Carolina posted over 3 years ago:

One question that crossed my mind is, couldn't returns be improved during a restrictive period by buying an ETF that shorts the commodity index?

Darren Cooper from Indiana posted over 3 years ago:

This article on the benefits of adding commodities to a stock portfolio is a very well-constructed piece of research. However, it fails in one key way - there is no way to take the results of a study looking at just two asset classes and apply them to a real world portfolio comprised of many asset classes.

For example, the authors conclude that a 10% allocation to commodities in an otherwise all stock portfolio is the minimum allocation that will provide statistically significant diversification benefits. However, the article says nothing about how to apply this result to a portfolio with a smaller allocation to stocks.

Further, the authors could study how the minimum allocation differs between an investor with two or three basic asset classes in their portfolio and a similar investor with a portfolio diversified across six or seven asset classes.

Christopher from Massachusetts posted over 2 years ago:

Also GCC is an interesting ETF to consider

Henry from Michigan posted over 2 years ago:

Dear Editor:

I do own a small amount of physical gold and silver,mostly in coins. The total value in today's market is about US$60K. All of them were purchased before 1985. I've kept them not for investment purposes but for unforeseen financial catastrophes,real great disasters like national default on debts or total government collapse in Washington. (Please do not laugh at me - With all the bozos doing unthinkable things there,anything could happen!) At least I'd have enough to buy bread,milk and butter for a year and then think what to do next-----.

Respectfully yours,

Henry Liu(LIfe member,AAII)

Donald from Massachusetts posted about 1 year ago:

specific stocks fcx vale

Al Williamson from Minnesota posted 29 days ago:

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