While many investors classify gold as a commodity, gold stands out from other commodities and alternatives, potentially offering more efficient diversification — a benefit that may support treating gold as a unique asset class, with a distinct and independent allocation of its own.
As portfolio construction evolves beyond the traditional “balanced” 60/40 stock and bond portfolio, investors are increasingly looking to add exposures with less traditional assets that can potentially add both diversification and uncorrelated returns. Based on gold’s historically low correlation with many traditional asset classes, an active allocation to gold may help to potentially improve strategic allocations and portfolio construction strategies for a wide range of portfolio risk profiles across a variety of full market cycles.
A commonly cited motivation to invest in broad commodities is to combat inflation, with commodities historically providing unique diversification and, generally speaking, positive average returns across various inflation environments. But not all commodities have performed similarly across all business cycles, and the extent of a commodity’s ability to offset inflation is more nuanced and dependent on the current or projected inflation regime.
Turning to today’s market, the surge in the US dollar has been a major headwind for many commodities that are globally priced in US dollars, including gold. High levels of macro uncertainty are expected to continue as the Federal Reserve (Fed) and other central banks continue to projected higher interest rates heading into 2023 to bring inflation down closer to the Fed’s 2% target.1 The US dollar bull market may have some more room to run while the Fed continues to raise rates, but when the Fed pivots, we expect demand for US dollars to dwindle. Based on historical data, the latest bull market on the US dollar may be positive for gold, with gold historically outperforming a basket of broad commodities when the US dollar enters a bear market.2
Moreover, as the chart below illustrates, certain commodities, such as oil, copper, and even silver, have historically been more cyclical than gold and have tended to have a higher correlation to market and economic cycles because their demand depends more on pro-cyclical consumption, meaning they may capture more of the upside movements in global equities, but they may also experience more of the downside when equities fall.
In conversations with investors, we are frequently asked how to compare gold with other commodities, liquid alternatives, and currencies. We often hear investors classifying gold as a commodity alongside other diversifying asset classes, such as oil, real estate, currencies, private equity and even a broad commodity index to gain exposure to gold. But gold frequently stands out from the pack of other commodities and alternatives, potentially offering more efficient diversification than many other sources — a benefit that may support treating gold as a unique asset class, with a distinct and independent allocation of its own.
Investors commonly access the commodity asset class by using broad commodity indices and passive strategies. This approach, however, should not be viewed as a substitute for an independent allocation to gold. In fact, based on three of the more prominent broad commodity indices, the gold allocation within a broad commodity index can range from 4% to 14%.3 This potentially leaves a portfolio underexposed to gold and some of its beneficial investment characteristics. Practically speaking, gaining gold exposure via a broad commodity index may offer investors access to some of gold’s diversifying and inflation-fighting benefits, but the relatively low exposure to gold may leave some potential benefits untapped.
When we compare gold with a major broad commodity index, we see that historically, gold has outperformed with less downside.
When discussing gold’s diversification benefits, the conversation often turns to other “liquid alternatives” that are frequently leveraged for their daily liquidity and low correlations to stocks and bonds. But broadly speaking, gold has historically maintained a lower correlation over time and has provided a more efficient source of diversification than many of those other assets, including REITs, liquid hedge fund strategies, and private equity proxies.
Since 2008, gold’s correlation to equities has trended lower, while other alternative asset classes have experienced a rise in their correlation to equities, potentially reducing the diversification benefits they provide to investors’ portfolios.
Currencies are another way that investors can manage volatility and inflation. With the evolution of technology, investors now have digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, to consider as an alternative for gold. But in our opinion, Bitcoin is not gold. In fact, Bitcoin’s extremely limited track record, exceptional volatility and speculative nature have yet to demonstrate that it can effectively transfer and preserve wealth like gold has the potential to do. And most central banks and other institutions still do not accept cryptocurrencies — such as Bitcoin — as a medium of exchange, further diminishing some of Bitcoin’s benefits relative to gold.
On a diversification and risk-adjusted return basis — especially during market downturns — Bitcoin historically is not comparable to gold, as seen in the following chart:
While innovation in the market is inevitable and welcomed, our stance is that both history and data have provided testament to gold’s historical store of value and virtues of diversification and liquidity — especially when compared with commodities, other alternative asset classes and cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.
Based on today’s changeable markets and risks, gold’s role in a modern-day portfolio may be extending its reach, redefining its uses and benefits among the list of known portfolio diversifiers and traditional fixed income assets that investors have historically relied on to navigate risks and grow portfolio values.
As the investment landscape evolves, the SPDR gold strategy team continues to monitor market trends and investor demand. Read the latest commentary here.
1 Bloomberg Finance, L.P., State Street Global Advisors, as of September 30, 2022.
2 Bloomberg, State Street Global Advisors. Data from 1/1/1973 – 09/01/22. Gold’s and a basket of broad commodities’ average cumulative returns were 145% and 53%, respectively, during US dollar bear markets. Gold Price is represented by LBMA Gold Price PM Index. Commodity prices are represented by S&P GSCI Price Index. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.
3 Bloomberg Finance, L.P., and State Street Global Advisors. Note: Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index, Rogers International Commodity Index®, and Bloomberg Commodity Index represent broad commodity indices and Index weights represent target allocations as of September 30, 2022 per the relevant index provider. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.
Bloomberg Commodity Index
A broadly diversified commodity price index distributed by Bloomberg Indexes that tracks 22 commodity futures and seven sectors. No one commodity can compose less than 2 percent or more than 15 percent of the index, and no sector can represent more than 33 percent of the index.
A peer-to-peer digital currency created in 2009 that offers the promise of lower transaction fees than those of traditional online payment mechanisms. Unlike government-issued currencies, Bitcoin is run and “regulated” by its own users using an infrastructure called “blockchain.”
A basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable, or “fungible,” with other commodities of the same type. Commodities are most often used as inputs in the production of other goods or services For example, crude oil is a commodity that is used to make motor fuels, heating oil and lubricants.
The historical tendency of two investments to move together. Investors often combine investments with low correlations to diversify portfolios.
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
A widely used measurement of inflation at the consumer level that helps to evaluate changes in cost of living. The CPI is composed of a basket of consumer goods and services across the economy and is calculated by the US Department of Labor by assessing price changes in the basket of goods and services and averaging them. Core CPI is the same series, minus food and energy prices, since they are considered to be volatile enough to distort the meaning and usefulness of so-called headline CPI. The absence of food and energy means that the core series reflects long-term inflation trends more accurately.
A strategy of combining a broad mix of investments and asset classes to potentially limit risk, although diversification does not guarantee protection against a loss in falling markets.
In modern portfolio theory, diversification is an approach used to potentially reduce the overall risk of the portfolio by holding a mix of assets with low correlations to each other. The potential benefit of holding uncorrelated assets is that some investments may rise while others fall.
Down Market Capture
The percentage of return that an asset captures when a market benchmark is down.
A given security’s potential to lose value if a prevailing market trend suddenly changes. The term also refers to the specific financial amount of the “worst-case” loss that that can occur in such sudden shifts.
A specific decline in the stock market during a specific time period that is measured in percentage terms as a peak-to-trough move.
Investments that could help insulate an overall portfolio from a decline in stocks or other financial markets. Examples include cash or other investments that have historically held up relatively well in down or volatile markets, such as gold or equity put options.
Periods of growth or contraction in the economy, typically called periods of expansion or recession. Different sectors and industries typically perform differently based on particular phases of the economy cycle.
FTSE NAREIT All Equity REITS Index
The index is a free-float-adjusted market capitalization-weighted index that includes all tax-qualified REITs listed in the NYSE, AMEX, and NASDAQ National Market.
HFRI FOF Diversified Index
The index invests in a variety of strategies among multiple managers; historical annual returns and/or standard deviations are generally similar to those of the HFRI Fund of Fund Composite Index. A fund in the HFRI FOF Diversified Index tends to show minimal loss in down markets while achieving superior returns in up markets.
ICE BofAML US 3-Month Treasury Bill Index
This is an unmanaged index that is comprised of a single U.S. Treasury issue with approximately three months to final maturity, purchased at the beginning of each month and held for one full month.
An overall increase in the price of an economy’s goods and services during a given period, translating to a loss in purchasing power per unit of currency. Inflation generally occurs when growth of the money supply outpaces growth of the economy. Central banks attempt to limit inflation — and avoid deflation — in order to keep the economy running smoothly.
LPX 50 Listed Private Equity Index
The index is designed to represent the global performance of the 50 most highly capitalized and liquid listed private equity companies. The index is diversified across regions, private equity investment styles, financing styles and vintages. The reference currency of the LPX50 Index is EUR, CHF and USD. The index is available as a Price Index and Total Return (Net).
Liquid Alternative Trading Strategy
Alternative investment approaches, including real estate, commodities, private equity, distressed securities and hedge funds that are available through relatively liquid structures such as ETFs, mutual funds and closed-end funds.
LBMA Gold Price The LBMA Gold Price is determined twice each business day — 10:30 a.m. London time (i.e., the LBMA Gold Price AM) and 3:00 p.m. London time (i.e., the LBMA Gold Price PM) by the participants in a physically settled, electronic and tradable auction.
MSCI World Index
The index captures large- and mid-cap representation across 23 Developed Markets. With 1,644 constituents, the index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each country.
Physical or tangible assets that have value and often are investable. Real assets include precious metals, commodities, real estate, agricultural land and oil; their inclusion in most diversified portfolios is considered appropriate.
A risk-based profitability measurement framework for analyzing risk-adjusted financial performance; it is designed to provide a consistent view of profitability across different assets.
Rogers International Commodity Index
The index represents the value of a basket of 36 commodity futures contracts. The index is a composite, US dollar-based total return index launched by James B. Rogers on July 31, 1998. The index represents the value of a basket of futures contracts on commodities consumed in the global economy, ranging from agricultural to energy and metals products.
Spot Gold Price
The price in spot markets for gold. In US dollar terms, spot gold is referred to with the symbol “XAU,” which refers to the price of one troy ounce of gold in USD terms.
S&P GSCI Total Return Index
The S&P GSCI Total Return Index in USD is widely recognized as the leading measure of general commodity price movements and inflation in the world economy. The index is calculated primarily on a world production-weighted basis comprised of the principal physical commodities futures contracts.
S&P 500® Total Return Index
The version of the popular benchmark for U.S. large-cap equities that includes 500 companies from leading industries and captures about 80% coverage of available market capitalization in the US that reflects returns after reinvestment of dividends.
A type of portfolio risk associated with unforeseen events that lead to sharp declines in equities and a rush to safe-haven investments such as short-dated Treasuries or gold.
Up Market Capture
The percentage return that an asset captures when a market benchmark is up.
The tendency of a market index or security to jump around in price. Volatility is typically expressed as the annualized standard deviation of returns. In modern portfolio theory, securities with higher volatility are generally seen as riskier due to higher potential losses.
For SPDR® Gold Trust and SPDR® Gold MiniShares® Trust:
Investing involves risk, and you could lose money on an investment in each of SPDR® Gold Shares Trust (“GLD®”) and SPDR® Gold MiniShares® Trust (“GLDM®”), a series of the World Gold Trust (together, the “Funds”).
Commodities and commodity-index linked securities may be affected by changes in overall market movements, changes in interest rates, and other factors such as weather, disease, embargoes, or political and regulatory developments, as well as trading activity of speculators and arbitrageurs in the underlying commodities.
Investing in commodities entails significant risk and is not appropriate for all investors.
Important Information Relating to SPDR® Gold Trust (“GLD®”) and SPDR® Gold MiniShares® Trust (“GLDM®”)
The SPDR Gold Trust (“GLD”) and the World Gold Trust have each filed a registration statement (including a prospectus) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) for GLD and GLDM, respectively. Before you invest, you should read the prospectus in the registration statement and other documents each Fund has filed with the SEC for more complete information about each Fund and these offerings. Please see each Fund’s prospectus for a detailed discussion of the risks of investing in each Fund’s shares. The GLD prospectus is available by clicking here and the GLDM prospectus is available by clicking here. You may get these documents for free by visiting EDGAR on the SEC website at sec.gov or by visiting spdrgoldshares.com. Alternatively, the Funds or any authorized participant will arrange to send you the prospectus if you request it by calling +44 (0)20 3395 6888.
None of the Funds is an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”). As a result, shareholders of each Fund do not have the protections associated with ownership of shares in an investment company registered under the 1940 Act. GLD and GLDM are not subject to regulation under the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936 (the “CEA”). As a result, shareholders of each of GLD and GLDM do not have the protections afforded by the CEA.
Shares of each Fund trade like stocks, are subject to investment risk and will fluctuate in market value.
The values of GLD shares and GLDM shares relate directly to the value of the gold held by each Fund (less its expenses), respectively. Fluctuations in the price of gold could materially and adversely affect an investment in the shares. The price received upon the sale of the shares, which trade at market price, may be more or less than the value of the gold represented by them.
None of the Funds generate any income, and as each Fund regularly sells gold to pay for its ongoing expenses, the amount of gold represented by each Fund share will decline over time to that extent.
The World Gold Council name and logo are a registered trademark and used with the permission of the World Gold Council pursuant to a license agreement. The World Gold Council is not responsible for the content of, and is not liable for the use of or reliance on, this material. World Gold Council is an affiliate of the Sponsor of each of GLD and GLDM.
GLD® is a registered trademark of World Gold Trust Services, LLC used with the permission of World Gold Trust Services, LLC. MiniShares® and GLDM® are registered trademarks of WGC USA Asset Management Company, LLC used with the permission of WGC USA Asset Management Company, LLC.
ETFs trade like stocks, are subject to investment risk and will fluctuate in market value. The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate in value, so that when shares are sold or redeemed, they may be worth more or less than when they were purchased. Although shares may be bought or sold on an exchange through any brokerage account, shares are not individually redeemable from the fund. Investors may acquire shares and tender them for redemption through the fund in large aggregations known as “creation units.” Please see the fund’s prospectus for more details.
NOTICE TO PERSONS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM ("UK")
GLD and GLDM is permitted to be marketed in the UK pursuant to either Article 42 of European Union Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (Directive 2011/61/EU) ("AIFMD") (as implemented under national laws); or (ii) can otherwise be lawfully offered or sold (including on the basis of an unsolicited request from a professional client).
GLD and GLDM is an alternative investment fund for the purpose of the European Union Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (Directive 2011/61/EU) ("AIFMD"). For purposes of the AIFMD, World Gold Trust Services, LLC is designated as the alternative investment fund manager ("AIFM") of GLD and GLDM.
For Professional Clients Only
Investing involves risk including the risk of loss of principal.
Commodity funds may be subject to greater volatility than investments in traditional securities. Investments in commodities may be affected by overall market movements, changes in interest rates, and other factors, such as weather, disease, embargoes, and international economic and political developments.
This material is for your private information. The views expressed are the views the SPDR® Gold Strategy Team and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. The opinions expressed may differ from those with different investment philosophies.
All information is from SSGA unless otherwise noted and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. There is no representation or warranty as to the current accuracy, reliability or completeness of, nor liability for, decisions based on such information and it should not be relied on as such.
The whole or any part of this work may not be reproduced, copied or transmitted or any of its contents disclosed to third parties without SSGA’s express written consent.
Standard & Poor’s, S&P and SPDR are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC(S&P); Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (Dow Jones); and these trademarks have been licensed for use by S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (SPDJI) and sublicensed for certain purposes by State Street Corporation. State Street Corporation’s financial products are not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by SPDJI, Dow Jones, S&P, their respective affiliates and third party licensors and none of such parties make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in such product(s) nor do they have any liability in relation thereto, including for any errors, omissions, or interruptions of any index.
Diversification does not ensure a profit or guarantee against loss.
Frequent trading of ETFs could significantly increase commissions and other costs such that they may offset any savings from low fees or costs.
The information provided does not constitute investment advice as such term is defined under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (2014/65/EU) and it should not be relied on as such. It should not be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any investment. It does not take into account any investor's or potential investor’s particular investment objectives, strategies, tax status, risk appetite or investment horizon. If you require investment advice you should consult your tax and financial or other professional advisor.
The information contained in this communication is not a research recommendation or ‘investment research’ and is classified as a ‘Marketing Communication’ in accordance with the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (2014/65/EU). This means that this marketing communication (a) has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research; and (b) is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research.
This communication is directed at professional clients (this includes eligible counterparties as defined by the appropriate EU regulator or applicable Swiss Regulator) who are deemed both knowledgeable and experienced in matters relating to investments. The products and services to which this communication relates are only available to such persons and persons of any other description (including retail clients) should not rely on this communication.
United Kingdom: State Street Global Advisors Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England. Registered No. 2509928. VAT No. 5776591 81. Registered office: 20 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HJ. T: 020 3395 6000. F: 020 3395 6350.
The trademarks and registered trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners. Third party data providers make no warranties or representations of any kind relating to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the data and have no liability for damages of any kind relating to the use of such data.
© 2022 State Street Corporation - All Rights Reserved. 3253313.15.1.EMEA.INST EXP: 01/12/2023