Make Money on this Downturn that is upon us.
The thing you can count on in a downturn is not being able to find a safe haven stock so how do you profit without shorting individual stocks? Inverse ETF's
7 Strategies for Profiting Off the Next Downturn
Personally, I don’t expect much financial drama over the next year. Stocks seem only a touch expensive relative to earnings. Earnings seem normal as a share of the economy. Powerful deflationary and inflationary forces (lax consumer demand and looming money creation, respectively) are offsetting each other, and should do so until world economic growth heats up, perhaps a year from now. And the dollar seems wobbly, but no more so than currencies that compete as a store of the world’s winnings.
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I could easily be wrong about any or all of these things, though. Stock prices and earnings spent several years too high, and so might now plunge to depths that are too low by the same degree. Emerging economies might grow fast enough to spur energy, food and metal inflation, even if rich countries stagnate. America might create so much money that the dollar plunges in value. For investors who fear the worst, and who wish to make protective or pessimistic investments, here’s a round-up of ones that don’t require options or futures trading, physical asset storage or the opening of foreign accounts. All are exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, which can be bought and sold like stocks in ordinary brokerage accounts.
Make Money If Stocks Plunge
The market is more likely to rise than fall on any given day. The longer you hold a broad basket of stocks, the better your chances of profiting. With inverse or bear funds, just the opposite is true. They’re meant as short-term bets on a decline in stock prices, and are unlikely to pay off as long-term holdings. That means investors needn’t agonize over slight differences in management expenses; an extra two-tenths of a percentage point per year compounds considerably over 20 years, but doesn’t mean much over one summer.
Start by choosing an index. Broad-market ones like the S&P 500 or Russell 2000 are fine for generally pessimistic strategies. There are also style indexes, if you think, say, stocks with high price/earnings ratios (growth stocks) will get hit harder than ones with low P/Es in the market’s next leg down. (That’s just what happens during most market downturns, but it hasn’t happened so far during this one.) Most of these funds are available with or without leverage. Levered bear funds try to produce double or triple the underlying indexes’ movements, but in the opposite direction.
Three warnings on leverage: First, needless to say, it multiplies risk. On Tuesday market averages jumped 2.4% to 3.5%, merely on news that consumers in a survey guessed conditions would improve in coming months. A skeptic might say that consumers are only more chipper because stocks have risen in recent weeks, and that their mood shouldn’t thus be used to predict yet more stock movements, but the point is, it doesn’t take too many perplexingly bullish days to hurt a levered bear investor. Second, levered funds are usually tuned to daily index performance, not yearly performance. Depending on market volatility, those amplified daily returns might compound to well higher or well lower than the indexes return over weeks, months or years. Third, bear funds in general aren’t great for minimizing taxes, since they’re for short-term bets, but levered bear funds especially spew out heaps of taxable gains during “good” years, because the derivative contracts that power them don’t enjoy the same tax benefits as stocks.
Have a look at some bets against stocks on this table, and then move on to inflation.
Inverse (Bear) Stock ETFsTickerBenchmarkTypeLeverage?SH
S&P 500Large companynoSDS
S&P 500Large company2XBGZ
Russell 1000Large company3XRWM
Russell 2000Small companynoTWM
Russell 2000Small company2XTZA
Russell 2000Small company3XSJF
Russell 1000 ValueValue2XSFK
Russell 1000 growthGrowth2XProfit From Soaring Consumer Prices
Gold is too often touted as the best protection against inflation. I’ve argued before that its price is mostly linked to doomsayer speculation, not actual industrial demand, making gold a poor choice for the job. If prices soar, the world might believe more in gold, but it won’t need more gold. Better to buy diversified metals ETFs like the ones listed below, along with ETFs that track energy and food prices. (Again, I list these as options for betting on raging inflation, not as recommendations. I think we’re ultimately headed for heightened, but not runaway inflation, and that the best hedge is stocks, especially cheap ones attached to dividend-paying companies that sell needed goods.) If you’re not sure which basket of commodities will see the most inflation (and you’re not), opt for a broad commodity ETF that holds all of them.
Commodity ETFsTickerCommodityIAU, GLD
Aluminum, zinc, copperDBA
Corn, wheat, soy beans, sugarDBO, USO
Light sweet crude, heating oil, Brent crude, gasoline, natural gasGSG
Agriculture (approx. 24%), metals (11%), energy (65%)RJI
Agriculture (approx. 35%), metals (21%), energy (44%)DJP
Agriculture (approx. 36%), metals (30%), energy, (34%)Cash In on a Dollar Crash
For the dollar’s value to drop, it must do so relative to something. A decline relative to the price of goods is simply a restatement of inflation, covered above. But the dollar can lose value relative to other currencies, too. To protect against that, use ETFs to either bet against the dollar or for some other currency. Note that dollar bear ETFs necessarily bet on other currencies, usually a basket of them. You can accomplish the same thing by buying funds that bet on the currencies of rich nations, emerging economies, geographic regions and so on. Finally, you can buy a fund that purchases currencies associated with high interest rates while shorting ones with low interest rates. Such “carry trade” funds net holders attractive interest rates, and rise in value if the high interest rates force currency-boosting frugality while the low ones allow currency-damaging profligacy.
Currency ETFs and ETNs (Exchange-Traded Notes)TickerType* These currencies are officially tied to the dollar, making the note a bet these countries will revalue their currencies, allow them to float freely or link them to other currencies.
** This fund buys the three highest-yielding and shorts the three lowest-yielding among Group of 10 currencies (U.S. dollars, euros, Japanese yen, Canadian dollars, Swiss francs, British pounds, Australian dollars, New Zealand dollars, Norwegian krone and Swedish krona).UDN
Dollar bear (against euro, Japanese yen, British pound, Canadian dollar, Swedish krona and Swiss franc)FXE, ERE, ERO
Euro 2XFXY, JYF
Yen 2XFXB, EGB, GBB
New Zealand dollarBZF
Brazilian realCYB, CNY
South African randSZE
Emerging marketsPGD *
HK dollar, Singapore dollar, Saudi Arabia riyal, United Emirates dirham, Chinese yuanDBV **
Carry trade (G10)Bet On Other Assorted Mayhem
Another meltdown for banks, once credit card and commercial real estate losses worsen: ProShares UltraShort Fianncials (SKF: 45.53*, +0.81, +1.81%) or Rydex Inverse 2X S&P Select Sector Financial (RFN: 10.91*, +0.16, +1.48%).
Consumers becoming even less able to afford niceties: ProShares UntraShort Consumer Goods (SZK: 63.48*, -0.32, -0.50%)
Weak U.S. consumption taking exporters down with us: ProShares UltraShort MSCI Emerging Markets (EEV: 21.96*, +0.57, +2.66%) and UltraShort MSCI Japan (EWV: 57.14*, -0.56, -0.97%)
A spike in interest rates, once America’s foreign creditors tire of seeing their meager yields erased by dollar losses (see story): ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury (TBT: 51.42*, +0.69, +1.36%) or Direxion Daily 30-Year Treasury Bear 3X Shares (TMV: 79.50*, +2.24, +2.89%).