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safe-haven assets
Safe-haven assets are a fundamental place to avoid economic downturns. They express the markets that can protect the investment from losses when the market falls.

The safe-haven assets are investments that investors start piling into during intense market volatility and uncertainty. The main goal is to take a position into investments that are recognized as safe from losses. Even more, they have the capacity to rise in price while the bulk of other assets are declining value. 

Safe-haven assets provide investors to limit their exposure to losses when market downturns and protect their capital invested. Like we have now when almost all markets plunged. When the markets enter tumultuous times like this one, the value of investments falls sharply. Investors are seeking assets that are not correlated to the markets. These kinds of assets are safe-haven assets.

So, we can say that safe-haven assets are able to hold or grow in value during the market turbulence.

Do anything to minimize the risk

Risk is real if you want to invest in stock markets. But it isn’t necessary to be exposed to great risks if you can avoid it. The point is to minimize the risks all the time, during the life of your investment. But when the market is declining almost all assets become too risky. In order to protect their capital, investors leave their position in unsafe assets and start buying something safer.
Safe-haven assets are those that don’t carry a high risk of loss. Historically that was cash, real estate, mutual funds, CDs, etc. You may ask, is gold a safe-haven asset? Gold as much as silver are historically used as a hedge against market or political uncertainty or the devaluation of a currency. But having in mind that gold coins have varied during the unstable political situations, it might be a wrong choice. Anyway, commodities are risky.

Better pick s risk-free assets, such as sovereign debt instruments or hold gold and silver trough futures.

What are safe-haven assets?

Safe-haven assets are the necessary answer to economic downturns. They are the markets that can protect investors from losses when other assets and markets fall. How can they protect your investment portfolio?
Safe-haven assets are holdings where investors and traders set their money to protect against major droppings. Safe-haven assets must allow protection from losses.

But what are the characteristics of safe-haven assets?

If you want trade safe-haven assets you must pay attention to liquidity. Such assets must have high liquidity. Why is this characteristic so important? Because that will provide you to enter and exit positions at a price you determine but without slippage. Further, safe-haven markets must have limited supply.  You don’t want the assets with a supply that passes their demand. It is more likely for such an asset to decrease in value. For example, gold has a deficit of supply, but higher value when demand increases. 

True safe-haven assets have to hold a certain level of demand in the future. So you, as an investor, must believe in the assets’ future, you must be confident about it. For example, that is the reason why silver isn’t so good investment choice. Yes, it has many purposes now, but it can be replaced in the future by some other material. On the other side, you might recognize copper as safe-haven assets because of its importance that increases over time. Almost every day, science, the industry find new ways to use copper.

Can you see where the essence of safe-haven assets? It is permanent. We cannot ever say that some temporary high valued asset belongs to the corpus of safe-haven assets. 

Is gold the ultimate safe-haven asset?

For many investors, gold is a safer asset to buy and hold, safer than cash, because it is a tangible asset. Further, no one can print more gold as it is possible with banknotes. This is important because it provides the value of gold not being changed in this way. From the historical point, gold served as insurance during unfavorable economic circumstances. Gold prices regularly rise when drastic events happen. Moreover, gold is negatively correlated to the US dollar. Meaning, when the dollar is strong it is costly to buy and hold. That drives gold prices lower. And vice versa. Investors know this. Whenever the US dollar was trading lower, they started piling into gold.

What are other safe-havens?

When the market records turbulent circumstances the value of most investments falls sharply. So, investors want to buy assets that are negatively correlated to the overall market. They are moving their investments into safe-haven assets.
That can be defensive stocks, such as consumer goods, utility, biotechnology, healthcare. These stocks tend to resist the market’s downturn. People are buying food, drugs, they need health care and groceries.  Also, don’t think that real estate due to its lack of liquidity isn’t a safe-haven asset. The real estate has a constant income flow that can offset the liquidity. 

Infrastructure is also safe-haven assets. So, even though the markets are going down there are plenty of ways to stay invested.

Building a safe-haven assets portfolio will need some additional attention to optimizing returns. But the results may be quite surprising. But there are safe-haven currencies also. For example, the Japanese Yen (JPY) is seen as one of the most stable safe-haven currencies.

Can we trade safe-haven assets?

Of course, we can. So after we’ve recognized safe-havens assets, want to trade them. The question is how and when to trade them. The possibility isn’t questionable. Let’s say this way, a market downturn is likely to hit due to the factors you can recognize. 

If you want to move a chunk of your portfolio into safer assets there are several things you have to consider.

First of all, trading safe-haven stocks is practiced as a defensive tool. The aim is to overcome a declining economy as even defensive stocks may not generate a positive return. It’s true that the slow economy will let safe-haven stocks beat the market, but it doesn’t mean that you will profit.

When trading safe-haven stocks examine the beta of stocks before investing. Beta points the relationship between the stock and the market. If the beta is 1, that means the stock price is fully correlated with the market, but when the beta is above 1, the stock is more volatile than the market, and finally, when the beta is closer to zero the correlation with the market is smaller. Knowing the beta of the stock will enable you to hedge against volatility. 

The P/E ratio will show you if the safe-haven stocks are undervalued or overvalued. The safe-haven stocks are well-known for being undervalued.  Also, the stocks with high dividends, meaning greater than 6%, are a good pick for safe-haven stocks. At least, as much as the stock from a well-established company. Well-known brands or large-cap stocks will lose less in value than small-caps during the market downturns.

All these factors are important and you have to evaluate them before picking your safe-haven assets and adjust your new holdings to your risk appetite.

Currencies as safe-haven assets

Some currencies are recognized as safe-havens. In periods when the market is extremely volatile, currency traders would like to move their cash into safe-haven currencies as protection. Those kinds of currencies are the Swiss franc, the euro, the Japanese yen, and the U.S. dollar.

Forex traders have to pay attention to some currencies that might act differently to market shifts than others. Also, there is always a question of what currencies suit to be safe-havens. 

Bottom line

The “safe-haven” refers to financial assets that investors turn to protect their profit from periods of market turbulence.
Safe-haven currencies, safe-haven stocks, gold, have historically preserved or increased their value during market downturns. They gave good protection against losses. Why shouldn’t they do such a thing for us now?

One suggestion before doing anything in real: use Etoro’s virtual trading system and check the two formula pattern.

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