Taking the (Investing) Road Less Traveled
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I believe the portfolios of retirees and near-retirees can benefit from alternative investments. But I'm not sure that hedge funds really reprsent the alternative investment asset class.
Hedge funds seem like a way for Wall Street's brightest stars to make obscene amounts of money by doing what they have always done, but with a lot less transparency.
But because hedge fund managers are some of the best and brightest and tend to hold ideas close to the vest, it is worth listening to them when they do talk.
Accordingly, when Steve Einhorn, vice chairman and portfolio manager for Omega Advisors ; Harvey Eisen, chairman of Bedford Oak Advisors ; and Michael Novogratz, a principal with Fortress Investment Group (FIG) got together for a panel discussion about the direction of the markets for the balance of 2012 and for 2013, I was anxious to learn their thoughts.
It's worth noting that the panel discussion was related to charity, not something hedge funds are typically known for.
The panel was held to drum up support for Trading Day for Kids, a once-a-year event (to be held Oct. 25 this year) where the hedge fund community does all its trading through one broker who then donates all the commissions to Youth, I.N.C., a master charity that redistributes the money to some wonderful nonprofits in New York City.
So what was the consensus view? All three investors are bullish for next year and bullish long term. This is good news, sort of.
I say "sort of," because underpinning all of their thinking in one way or another, was the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing policy and the advent of QE3.
Fortress' Novogratz said, "With QE3, Bernanke basically doubled down. To me it looks like maniacal behavior precisely designed to bring about a change in thinking that will cause dollars now in conservative fixed-income investments to rotate into riskier asset classes."
I don't entirely agree. As the clock ticks along on the Fed's policy approach, the day may well come when the $10 trillion sloshing around in fixed-income investments held by pensions funds will migrate into equities. To put the possible impact of this into perspective, the market capitalization of the New York Stock Exchange is about $15 trillion.
Despite the compelling nature of these numbers, I don't see wholesale migration into equities as a sound strategy for the average everyday investor. Institutions and hedge funds may be equipped to win at this game, but individuals are not.
Retirees and near-retirees need to let the institutions play their own game. Individuals need to focus their own efforts on figuring out how to generate the income they need when interest rates are very low.
That's why I'm sticking with my strategy of shifting away from the classical pre or postretirement portfolio into what I call the neoclassical retirement portfolio. Here's a quick summation of the difference: