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One of the many ways this year differs from last is that in 2017 even your hedges rose-a surprise, since one expects that assets intended to hedge equity risk won’t perform well in “risk on” periods. However, in 2018, in contrast, not only are stocks producing lower returns with more volatility, hedges have become less reliable. U.S. government bonds are down anywhere between 2% and 4%, depending on the duration of the bond. Gold, another portfolio hedge, is flat year-to-date.

Last November, I suggested that investors trim, but not abandon gold. Since then global stocks are up around 3% in dollar terms; the U.S. has done even better, gaining roughly 5%. At the same time a broader index of U.S. bonds is off around 2.5% while gold is flat. In other words, gold has beaten bonds but been a drag on equity returns.

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