When Absolute Returns Are Not Absolute

When Absolute Returns Are Not Absolute
Thoughts on Portfolio Structure and Alternatives
Cape Town, the Caribbean, and Fishing

This week is part two of our conversation about alternative investments. As I pointed out last week, this space has evolved into a distinct asset class of its own. I believe investors need to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of investing in alternatives.

The Strategic Investment Conference is going very well. I am thoroughly delighted with the speakers so far. The feedback has been great. I will be covering some of the highlights of the conference in future letters but can only skim the surface. Serious investors (you are one, aren't you?) should read the transcripts or view videos when the conference is over. As we've done for the past few years, we will make these available to those who weren’t able to attend as it happened. And we still have next Monday and Wednesday to go, so sign up here and start catching up.

The bulk of this letter is by David Bahnsen. I have made a few edits, but anything substantial from me will be inside [brackets], plus some closing remarks at the end. This may be the best short analysis of the alternative space and its evolution I have ever read. It is worth your few minutes of time. Now let's turn it over to David.

When Absolute Returns Are Not Absolute—By David Bahnsen

Last week we focused on the philosophy behind our inclusion of alternative investments in a portfolio. Contrary to much of the wishful thinking that permeated alternatives at the beginning of the century, and despite the assurances of the marketing departments at many “absolute return” strategies, we do not view alternative investments as a magic potion whereby risk is replaced with certainty and performance becomes one-directional. The asymmetry of risk and reward that many spend their investing careers looking for is quite elusive; prudence and diligence, on the other hand, are valuable tools in getting to the right outcome.