Few Safe Havens

October 29, 2008
Special Feature

If misery loves company, there's plenty of it to go around in the investment arena. With the recent slippage in the price of gold, virtually every major investment sector, except for money markets and government bonds, is now in the red for the year.

If misery loves company, there’s plenty of it to go around in the investment arena. With the recent slippage in the price of gold, virtually every major investment sector, except for money markets and government bonds, is now in the red for the year. Treasuries have gained a tad over 4.6% since January 1, while the average money market fund has yielded around 2%, give or take a few basis points. It’s pretty much all downhill after that.

Feeling bad about the 35% losses in your domestic stock funds? Save some pity for your fellow investors who went big into foreign and emerging market stocks. Stocks in India have taken a 65% hit since the first of the year, while Chinese stocks have lost 54% of their value. Also at the bottom of the YTD investment return pool, with losses ranging from 41% to 48%, are stocks from the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America. Back in the US, the only industry sector to post a gain for the year is beer brewing, helped primarily by a 20% jump in the stock of takeover target Anheuser-Busch.

On the whole, commodities have done better than equities, even though many have fallen far from their sky-high levels. Gold has been the best performer, losing less than 8% on the year. Aluminum has also held up fairly well, with a loss of less than 13%. Crude oil has plunged nearly 23%, and other commodities like corn, sugar, and coffee have performed almost as poorly. Trailing oil with losses in the 27% to 35% range are soybeans, cotton, and copper. Silver and wheat bring up the tag end of the commodities sector, turning in YTD losses of 39% and 41% respectively.