What hedge strategies do you employ?

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finite_difference
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What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by finite_difference » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:03 am

I like the idea of hedging. Not investing in hedge funds, mind you, but investing in such a way that losing is winning.

I think the 3-fund portfolio is overall the most optimal. Be wary of deviating significantly from it as your core holding (e.g. 80%+ or so).

I know tilting is nothing new and many follow it here. But, it seems like you may be better off tilting in ways that are optimized for your personal situation. Here are some examples:

1a) If you work for an oil company, or related industry, it would make less sense to increase your weight in energy stocks. If you lose your job then likely energy stocks will be down too (broadly speaking.)
1b) However if you work in an unrelated industry, and have very high energy costs, then it would make sense to tilt toward energy. If your energy bills go up, presumably your stocks will go up too, and vice versa if your energy bills go down, then it’s less painful for that sector to go down too.

2a) If you are a doctor, healthcare as a sector makes less sense since you are already tilted in that direction.
2b) But if you do not work in healthcare, then it allows you to share in the profits as healthcare costs continue to rise. If healthcare costs plummet, then that balances out underperformance of investing in the health care sector. Either way you win.

3) Buying a house lets you lock in an interest rate. If rates go down, you can refinance. If rates go up, you are still paying the same %, but with inflated dollars.

4) You can hedge the tax rate, including your state rates and where you want to live when you retire (if you know that.) That is why Bogleheads recommend investing in both Traditional 401k and Roth IRA. With the tax cut recently passed it may make sense to prioritize maxing out that Roth IRA since rates may not be able to go lower.

5) Hedging toward saving more in your Traditional 401k, since even if RMDs put you in a high tax bracket, being in a high tax bracket is a good problem to have. Either way you win.

6) Something you don’t like. If you buy it, and it goes down, at least you are happy it is not doing well. If it goes up, well, at least you are earning money.

7) The 50/50 hedge for AA, and for investing in taxable/mortgage.

These are just some examples, and feel free to pick them apart, but I am mostly interested in hearing about other hedge strategies you use or that you have thought of.
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh

dbr
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by dbr » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:18 am

There can be a literal and also a general interpretation of hedging, but one suggestion is to avoid investment uncertainty altogether and insure against longevity risk by giving up investment assets for an annuity. People that have SS and maybe also a pension have forced annuities.

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unclescrooge
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:39 am

I hedge my alcohol and chocolate consumption with a few extra shares of Diageo and Nestle :mrgreen:

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willthrill81
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by willthrill81 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:51 am

One could argue that a 'risk parity' portfolio or something similar is a hedge since it is intended to equalize stock and bond risk.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by goblue100 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:54 am

I did not come up with these on my own, but one of my favorite financial writers was Scott Burns. He came up with the several "couch potato" portfolios which employed various tilts. The two that I'm in are TIPS to hedge against unexpected inflation and energy to hedge against high energy costs. Both have probably been losers compared to the three fund portfolio, to be honest.
Some people are immune to good advice. - Saul Goodman

Marketman
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by Marketman » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:57 am

I have often thought about this subject as well. I live in Texas and our local economy is very tied to the price of oil. I have thought about a slight tilt to things that do well when oil goes down. Perhaps a transportation index??? Some refinery companies (don't know of an index for this)???

inbox788
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by inbox788 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:20 am

finite_difference wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:03 am
1b) However if you work in an unrelated industry, and have very high energy costs, then it would make sense to tilt toward energy. If your energy bills go up, presumably your stocks will go up too, and vice versa if your energy bills go down, then it’s less painful for that sector to go down too.
I've thought about my personal gas usage for driving and home energy needs. I've considered Chevron (CVX) or Energy Sector (XLE), but I'm not convinced it's close or direct enough to track the gas prices and crude prices may be better, but a hedge works both ways and you lose benefit from low prices as well as your ability to cut or raise the usage. Hedging by airlines is an interesting category and you can see how it's helped or hurt Southwest with their financial futures strategies vs. Delta operating their own refinery. You have to decide if it's necessary to hedge or simply pay market prices and deal with their peaks and spikes, which in many situations is the simplest and most efficient solution.
https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/ ... off-a.aspx
https://www.fool.com/investing/2016/07/ ... -agai.aspx
2a) If you are a doctor, healthcare as a sector makes less sense since you are already tilted in that direction.
Ironically, doctors are probably the biggest investors in healthcare and pharma, likely stemming from their high pay along with a lot of salespeople tell them to "invest in what they know".
2b) But if you do not work in healthcare, then it allows you to share in the profits as healthcare costs continue to rise. If healthcare costs plummet, then that balances out underperformance of investing in the health care sector. Either way you win.
Again, like oil companies, I'm not sure healthcare costs and profits are sync up, so you could wind up with higher healthcare costs and lower profits for healthcare companies just at a time when your healthcare needs go up. In periods when they are in sync, it works out great, but the risk they go out of sync means a double whammy.
https://finance.google.com/finance?chdn ... Ga2AbG-IJI
3) Buying a house lets you lock in an interest rate. If rates go down, you can refinance. If rates go up, you are still paying the same %, but with inflated dollars.
You pay for that hedge with higher fixed interest rates than variable ones. It's insurance against rising rates. In some ways, any insurance is some form of hedging.

Personally, I've played around with shorting the market. It's a form of market timing, since my long term position is to be in the market, but there are times I've wanted to take some off the table. The end effect is akin to going from 80/20 AA to 60/40 and back to 80/20 or 70/30 some short time later.

Another hedge strategy I've employed is pairs trading. Say you think Facebook (FB) will beat the market (SP500 SPY), so you buy FB and short SPY. Or you think Amazon will beat Walmart (or better yet Sears), so you buy AMZN and short WMT/SHLD. It's risky and there are various ways you can win or lose, intended or unintended. Anyway, it's hedging, but quite anti BH.

inbox788
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by inbox788 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:37 am

unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:39 am
I hedge my alcohol and chocolate consumption with a few extra shares of Diageo and Nestle :mrgreen:
Predicting future consumption is also a challenge. You can think if solar power as a hedge against rising electricity costs when you buy or lease 20 or 30 years worth of future electricity, but like alcohol, chocolate or gas, I'd probably I'd wind up consuming more power from hedging.

https://www.motherjones.com/environment ... ering-pge/

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willthrill81
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by willthrill81 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:01 am

Marketman wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:57 am
I have often thought about this subject as well. I live in Texas and our local economy is very tied to the price of oil. I have thought about a slight tilt to things that do well when oil goes down. Perhaps a transportation index??? Some refinery companies (don't know of an index for this)???
If you really wanted to hedge against oil, you could short that sector. I wouldn't personally do that, but it would certainly be a hedge.
inbox788 wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:37 am
Predicting future consumption is also a challenge.
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future."
- Niels Bohr
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

Marketman
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by Marketman » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:18 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:01 am
Marketman wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:57 am
I have often thought about this subject as well. I live in Texas and our local economy is very tied to the price of oil. I have thought about a slight tilt to things that do well when oil goes down. Perhaps a transportation index??? Some refinery companies (don't know of an index for this)???
If you really wanted to hedge against oil, you could short that sector. I wouldn't personally do that, but it would certainly be a hedge.
inbox788 wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:37 am
Predicting future consumption is also a challenge.
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future."
- Niels Bohr
Shorting is just too darn expensive to do on a long term basis. I would think a modest tilt would be more conservative and less expensive. However, I have thought about it but have yet to do it.

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Svensk Anga
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by Svensk Anga » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:49 am

I am hedging my no-COLA pension with a ladder of TIPS plus some I-bonds. I guess that delaying SS claiming is also an inflation hedge. Maybe my wife should claim early as a policy hedge

You could say I am hedging my future tax liability via Roth conversions.

FrankLUSMC
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by FrankLUSMC » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:14 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:39 am
I hedge my alcohol and chocolate consumption with a few extra shares of Diageo and Nestle :mrgreen:
Nice, I prefer to use VHT to hedge my addictions! :sharebeer

HongKonger
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by HongKonger » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:19 pm

I have fixed income in multiple currencies.

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nedsaid
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by nedsaid » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:30 pm

I am an inflation hawk as I am old enough to remember the higher inflation of the 1970's and the sudden big rise of gas prices. Pretty much, my portfolio is built to fight inflation. 2/3 of my portfolio is in stocks, both US and International. A portion of my stocks are in Real Estate Investment Trusts, owned through a REIT Index ETF, a REIT Index Fund, a couple of actively managed REIT funds, and a large Timber REIT. In my bond portfolio, I have TIPS in there and non-currency hedged International Bonds to hedge against a weaker dollar.

I also was a factor investor before it was cool. Always have been Value oriented as an investor and I have a small Small/Value tilt and a larger Large/Value tilt. Also own mutual funds that exercise a discipline of buying stocks with earnings and price momentum. A Value strategy coupled with a more aggressive momentum strategy. Done this for years. Also like Mid-Caps and Small-Cap stocks, both here in the US and overseas. So I diversify across factors as well.
A fool and his money are good for business.

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unclescrooge
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:45 pm

inbox788 wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:37 am
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:39 am
I hedge my alcohol and chocolate consumption with a few extra shares of Diageo and Nestle :mrgreen:
Predicting future consumption is also a challenge. You can think if solar power as a hedge against rising electricity costs when you buy or lease 20 or 30 years worth of future electricity, but like alcohol, chocolate or gas, I'd probably I'd wind up consuming more power from hedging.

https://www.motherjones.com/environment ... ering-pge/
I also installed solar panels, but I bought outright instead of leasing.

Not sure how electric consumption would go up over time. Everything is becoming more efficient over time - bulbs, TV's, fridges, hvacs.

So even if your consumption went up, the cost would probably stay flat.

OTOH, I fully expect my consumption of chocolate and whisky to increase, maybe greater than inflation. :mrgreen:

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unclescrooge
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:48 pm

FrankLUSMC wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:14 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:39 am
I hedge my alcohol and chocolate consumption with a few extra shares of Diageo and Nestle :mrgreen:
Nice, I prefer to use VHT to hedge my addictions! :sharebeer
Solid choice!

sambb
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by sambb » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:50 pm

Best thing to hedge is ones health. Stay in shape so the savings can be enjoyed. No point of saving that much if you can’t keep yourself in shape.

TravelforFun
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by TravelforFun » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:06 pm

Regarding the OP's 1a, I've been in heavy construction for 45 years and feel I have a pretty good understanding of how well my industry is doing short term wise. I buy and sell shares in design and construction public companies all the times and my performance in this sector is better than other sectors. If you have knowledge in certain fields why shying away from it?

TravelforFun
Last edited by TravelforFun on Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

bberris
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by bberris » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:47 pm

I understand what you mean by hedging, but that is not the classical meaning of the word. I'm surprised no one mentioned it so far, that the riskiest stock for you is the one you work for. Since many people get stock awards, or options, or RSUs, it is unavoidable to an extent. And there are political risks to selling even when you are allowed. Nevertheless, to the greatest extent possible or practical, one should diversify away from their employer.

inbox788
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by inbox788 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:08 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:45 pm
Not sure how electric consumption would go up over time. Everything is becoming more efficient over time - bulbs, TV's, fridges, hvacs.

So even if your consumption went up, the cost would probably stay flat.

OTOH, I fully expect my consumption of chocolate and whisky to increase, maybe greater than inflation. :mrgreen:
Easy. Bulbs use a quarter the electricity, so I double the time I leave them on and I install 7 bulbs in my bathroom that used to have 1 (real example). When lightbulbs used to last 1000 hours, I'd be changing the 10 lightbulbs around the house about one a month. Today, I have 100 lightbulbs to change (LR, DR, kitchen, BR, bathrooms, closets, basement, attic, garage, outdoor, etc.), and thankfully they last much longer so it's still only about one a month. TV stays on much longer, even when not watching. Old TV is used with game machine. Fridge gets bigger. Thermostat for AC is set a few degrees cooler plus global warming if you believe that. You don't want that wonderful chocolate melting. And you don't want to run out of ice for your whiskey, so you buy one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Igloo-ICE103-Cou ... 004VV8GOQ/ And I think sooner or later, electric car charging is going to be widely adopted.

If something is too cheap, we tend to overuse or waste it, and that's readily apparent with electricity (how many Christmas lights do you have? http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=90950&page=1 ). And just look at some of the ways we misuse waste and food. The hedge here is that we can always cut back (or so we think).

golfCaddy
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by golfCaddy » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:04 pm

Clinical healthcare is recession proof, outside a few specialties like plastic surgery. There's always going to be a demand for doctors and nurses.

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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by daveydoo » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:13 pm

golfCaddy wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:04 pm
Clinical healthcare is recession proof, outside a few specialties like plastic surgery. There's always going to be a demand for doctors and nurses.
We tilt away from biomedicine as a form of, uh, occupational hedging. The advancements here are in how not to deliver care -- so demand will not be the driving force in revenue. :D On the other hand, pharma seems foolproof, but someone will have to pay for all of those billion-dollar drugs in the pipeline and I'm not sure who that will be...
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael...what could it cost? Ten dollars?"

heyyou
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by heyyou » Mon Apr 16, 2018 2:03 am

Prior to retirement, sold the multi-story house and bought the smaller, cheaper, single level retiree sized home.
Delaying SS to age 70.
Stayed at the job with a no-COLA pension until the pension credits equaled our conservative spending and we could get less expensive retiree healthcare (at age 55).
During the ensuing years, we made 13 conversions from the tIRA to the Roth IRA to reduce future taxes on RMDs.
We are happy with our retirement spending in our low cost of living area, so we do not need to WD the historical maximum amounts from our portfolio.
We have enough in bond funds for 10+ years of spending, without selling any equity shares if the stock market crashes.
Our slice and dice portfolio is equally allocated to several equity sub-asset classes, not just the Large Growth bias of total market funds, since the 2000 Crash. We can see that equities will outgrow inflation if we are patient enough, so we do not look elsewhere for inflation protection.

Due to past experience with leveraged limited partnerships and a collateralized commodities futures (CCF) fund, we are skeptical of convoluted, highly focused investment funds.

We have read about Taleb who made a fortune shorting the market, and he wrote about someone that he respected who made and then lost a fortune there. Taleb's hedge fund eventually folded when the stock market did not repeat the event that made his fame and fortune for him. The lesson is about expecting the repetition (the market staying irrational longer than you can stay solvent). It is noticeable that the future is often slightly different enough from the past, that in retrospect, what would have worked best last time, will not apply well to the next event. We have to learn to just accept then adapt, instead of thinking we have it all figured out.

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unclescrooge
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by unclescrooge » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:32 am

inbox788 wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:08 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:45 pm
Not sure how electric consumption would go up over time. Everything is becoming more efficient over time - bulbs, TV's, fridges, hvacs.

So even if your consumption went up, the cost would probably stay flat.

OTOH, I fully expect my consumption of chocolate and whisky to increase, maybe greater than inflation. :mrgreen:
Easy. Bulbs use a quarter the electricity, so I double the time I leave them on and I install 7 bulbs in my bathroom that used to have 1 (real example). When lightbulbs used to last 1000 hours, I'd be changing the 10 lightbulbs around the house about one a month. Today, I have 100 lightbulbs to change (LR, DR, kitchen, BR, bathrooms, closets, basement, attic, garage, outdoor, etc.), and thankfully they last much longer so it's still only about one a month. TV stays on much longer, even when not watching. Old TV is used with game machine. Fridge gets bigger. Thermostat for AC is set a few degrees cooler plus global warming if you believe that. You don't want that wonderful chocolate melting. And you don't want to run out of ice for your whiskey, so you buy one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Igloo-ICE103-Cou ... 004VV8GOQ/ And I think sooner or later, electric car charging is going to be widely adopted.

If something is too cheap, we tend to overuse or waste it, and that's readily apparent with electricity (how many Christmas lights do you have? http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=90950&page=1 ). And just look at some of the ways we misuse waste and food. The hedge here is that we can always cut back (or so we think).
True, there is a lot of wastage.

I meant to say that even if your usage goes up, your consumption stays constant.

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Portfolio7
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by Portfolio7 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:41 pm

Paying down debt. #1 Priority for the next ten years. Car, Business, Heloc, Mortgage.

Other Hedges:
Cash
Bonds
Low Volatility stocks
REITs
Diversification
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

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whodidntante
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by whodidntante » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:47 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:01 am
Marketman wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:57 am
I have often thought about this subject as well. I live in Texas and our local economy is very tied to the price of oil. I have thought about a slight tilt to things that do well when oil goes down. Perhaps a transportation index??? Some refinery companies (don't know of an index for this)???
If you really wanted to hedge against oil, you could short that sector. I wouldn't personally do that, but it would certainly be a hedge.
You can get direct inverse exposure to oil price movements cheaply. Sell an oil futures contract.

DetroitRick
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by DetroitRick » Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:56 pm

I incorporate a few of these strategies into my investing plan:

Having assets spread across traditional IRA, Roth and taxable brokerage - since I can't predict either future tax policy or my own future situation (including state income tax or absence thereof) I like the diversification or hedge that this spread gives me. Has worked nicely so far, especially with ACA-related tax issues.

Having international positions that are not fully currency-hedged. Currency volatility doesn't bother me, so it's a two-way street to me. I chose my mutual funds partially to avoid complete hedging, and maintain individual stock positions (with no currency hedging).

Holding asset class holdings that don't move in lockstep. Just basic diversification. Equity, fixed income, cash, commodities, precious metals. But mostly equity, fixed and cash.

I also, because of where I live, generally avoid direct stock holdings in automotive and automotive supply companies. Not really a hedge though, because I won't make out during automotive downturns. The local housing market gives me all the exposure I want. I suppose I could short positions, but prefer not to. If house was a bigger % of my equity, then I probably would.

finite_difference
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by finite_difference » Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:46 pm

bberris wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:47 pm
I understand what you mean by hedging, but that is not the classical meaning of the word. I'm surprised no one mentioned it so far, that the riskiest stock for you is the one you work for. Since many people get stock awards, or options, or RSUs, it is unavoidable to an extent. And there are political risks to selling even when you are allowed. Nevertheless, to the greatest extent possible or practical, one should diversify away from their employer.
Here’s the definition I am thinking of:

“To protect oneself against loss on (a bet or investment) by making balancing or compensating transactions.”

I guess I am taking it one step further and trying to go for “win-win” instead of simply avoiding loss.

Is that the classical definition you are referring to?
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh

finite_difference
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by finite_difference » Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:51 pm

daveydoo wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:13 pm
golfCaddy wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:04 pm
Clinical healthcare is recession proof, outside a few specialties like plastic surgery. There's always going to be a demand for doctors and nurses.
We tilt away from biomedicine as a form of, uh, occupational hedging. The advancements here are in how not to deliver care -- so demand will not be the driving force in revenue. :D On the other hand, pharma seems foolproof, but someone will have to pay for all of those billion-dollar drugs in the pipeline and I'm not sure who that will be...
Yes the more that I think about it, the more I am intrigued by the healthcare tilt. It’s the ultimate hedge in some ways. And I think there is so much potential room for improvement. I guess the question is, how much of the increase in healthcare costs is related to total return from a healthcare sector mutual fund?

The other ultimate tilt would be to try to profit off the rising educational costs. Not sure that is possible though. But t would help offset paying for college. Student loans and for-profit colleges? :twisted:
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh

daveydoo
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Re: What hedge strategies do you employ?

Post by daveydoo » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:43 pm

finite_difference wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:51 pm

The other ultimate tilt would be to try to profit off the rising educational costs. Not sure that is possible though. But t would help offset paying for college. Student loans and for-profit colleges? :twisted:
I think you mean the rising sticker price. No one pays that. Except suckers like me. :D The actual cost of college attendance has not risen anywhere nearly as dramatically as the sticker/list price. The off-loading of tuition subsidies to classmates' parents has been a windfall for the more competitive colleges. I love the threads that brag about generous some schools are. In reality, they are just more effective at wealth transfer.

There are plenty of for-profit colleges, in case you really want to invest in them. Oh, they all suck of course but it doesn't stop people from handing them :moneybag. Some of these institutions have even been sued for fraud, if memory serves. :D
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael...what could it cost? Ten dollars?"

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