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While it’s true that 2022 was a memorable year for investors, and not in a good way, it may also serve as a valuable reminder why we invest in equities and bonds in the first place.

In an unusual turn of events, cash has been king so far in 2022—the strongest-performing asset class for the year (though outperformance is easy when all your competition is negative). With nearly every other asset class down, it may be tempting to chase that glimmer of outperformance and increase your allocation to cash, even if just to avoid further losses.

But that’s where perspective can help. The last time cash outperformed, it solidly returned to last place the following year, which is much more typical than its outstanding performance so far: Over the long term, cash is usually the worst performer with an average of just 0.57% return in the last 15 years (FIGURE 1). Though different asset classes take turns in the lead, cash is almost always reliably underwhelming.

 

 

FIGURE 1

Performance Leadership Changes Frequently
Asset Class Returns (%) 2008–2022

Past performance does not guarantee future results. * As of 9/30/22. Indices are unmanaged and not available for direct investment. See below for representative index definitions. For illustrative purposes only. Source: Morningstar, 11/22.

 

Any history scholar will tell you no throne room is complete without background scheming from courtiers. While cash has been adjusting its newfound crown, the volatility of 2022 has been quietly setting the stage for potential long-term opportunities in other asset classes, such as equities and fixed income.

 

Focus on Fixed Income

For some of us, the dismal performance so far in 2022 made it easy to forget why we typically invest in certain asset classes (looking at you, fixed income). But sometimes lackluster performance is like hitting a reset button: after extended volatility and underperformance, investing today could be likened to hitting the clearance section.

While rising interest rates are one of the causes for recent underperformance, they’ve also set up two important conditions going forward. First, since bond prices fall when yields rise, today’s prices are somewhat depressed, creating attractive entry points for investors.

Second, it means bond yields, which have been near zero for years, are now looking the most attractive they have in a decade: Across major fixed-income sectors, bonds were yielding at least 4% as of 9/30/22 (FIGURE 2). As the Federal Reserve (Fed) continues to raise interest rates in its effort to combat inflation, yields should also continue to rise. As of this writing, expectations for the peak federal funds rate had risen to more than 5%.1

 

FIGURE 2

Bonds Yields Are the Most Attractive They’ve Been in a Decade

Index Yield to Worst (9/30/22) Yield Percentile
(Last 10 years)*
Bloomberg US Aggregate Bond Index 4.75% 100th
Bloomberg US Treasury Index 4.13% 100th
Bloomberg Municipal Bond Index 4.04% 100th
Bloomberg US Corporate Index 5.69% 100th
Bloomberg US Corporate High Yield Index 9.68% 100th

Past performance does not guarantee future results. As of 9/30/22. Yield to worst is the minimum yield that can be received on a bond assuming the issuer doesn’t default on any of its payments. *For yield percentile, 100th is most attractive and 1st is least attractive. See below for representative index definitions. Source: Bloomberg and ICE BofA Indices.

An Eye on Equities

As is the case with fixed income, all the downward pressure in 2022 may have done some favors for those who know where to look in equities, too. For example, with most of the major equity indices down by double digits, many corporate valuations have also been pushed down. Like bonds, this may provide investors an attractive entry point.

There are many things weighing on equities these days, from the war in Ukraine to inflation and the same rising interest rates that are impacting bonds. But if the Fed succeeds in taming inflation in a meaningful way and can stop hiking rates, it should help confidence return to the equity markets.

That, in turn, will help improve underlying fundamentals—stock earnings could resume a growth trajectory, margins would improve, and labor costs could slow.

Once some of the stresses are removed from equities, the recovery could kick in surprisingly strong. Even after some of the deepest market declines, equities have historically made solid recoveries—often double-digit gains within just six months of hitting a bottom (FIGURE 3).

It may still take months or years to break even from losses incurred in a bear market, but the advantage of staying invested is that you take part in the momentum of a rebound from day one.

 

 

FIGURE 3

After Significant Drawdowns, Equities Have Tended to Make Strong and Swift Recoveries
10 Worst Market Drawdowns Since the 1960s

    Returns (%) After Reaching Bottom
Cause Max Drawdown # of Months
To Hit Bottom
# of Months
To Break Even
 After 6  Months After 1 Year After 3 Years
Kennedy Slide/Flash Crash (1961–1962) -27.97 6 14 20.45 32.66 16.65
Vietnam Worries (1968–1970) -36.06 18 21 22.80 43.73 15.92
Nixon Shock (1973–1974) -48.15 21 69 29.74 39.36 15.49
Rate Hikes to Fight Inflation (1980–1982) -27.11 20 3 44.14 58.33 22.35
Black Monday (1987) -33.51 3 20 19.26 22.78 13.69
Iraq Invaded Kuwait (1990) -19.92 3 4 27.81 29.10 15.97
Asian Financial Crisis (1998) -19.34 2 3 29.36 37.93 5.66
Dot-com Bubble Burst (2000–2002) -49.15 31 56 11.49 33.73 15.47
Global Financial Crisis (2007–2009) -56.78 17 49 52.75 68.57 26.54
COVID-19 Pandemic (2020) -33.93 1 5 44.67 74.78 ?
Average -35.19 12 24 30.25 44.10 16.42

Past performance does not guarantee future results. Data shown is for the S&P 500 Price Index as of 6/30/22 and does not include the reinvestment of dividend payments. A drawdown measures a peak-to-trough decline in the market. Returns for less than one year are not annualized. Indices are unmanaged and not available for direct investment. Data Sources: Morningstar and Hartford Funds, 6/22.

 

Conclusion

All this said, there’s no telling when cash will be dethroned. Until China’s zero-COVID policy and the war in Ukraine come to an end, they’re likely to continue feeding inflation by disrupting supply chains and pushing prices higher as consumer demands remains high. The Fed has made it clear that whipping inflation is a priority and that it intends to keep raising interest rates, which is likely to keep roiling the bond market in the near term. All this uncertainty is likely to continue to feed volatility for both equities and bonds.

But if nothing else, cash’s brief reign may help investors step back and examine their portfolios. Cash can serve an important role in a portfolio, whether as a source of liquidity or as a cushion against volatility. But as a source of return, its outperformance vs. other assets classes is likely to be brief, slim, and probably not worth giving up long-term growth or income prospects that its peers have historically provided.

Working with a financial professional today can help set up a portfolio that’s allocated for tomorrow’s opportunities, whether it’s in equities, bonds, or cash—or a combination of all three.

 

Talk to your financial professional to help make sure your portfolio is properly allocated for your goals and risk tolerance. 

Select Hartford Funds Equity and Fixed-Income Funds

Morningstar ratings for Mutual Fund I-Shares

OVERALL
(as of 12/31/2022)
Overall, 5 stars, 3-Year, 4 stars, 5-Year, 5 stars, and 10-Year, 5 stars, rated against 426, 426, 399 and 293 products, respectively. Morningstar RatingTM is calculated for products with at least a 3-year history, based on a risk-adjusted return measure (excluding any applicable sale charges) and accounts for variations in a product's monthly performance. 5 stars are assigned to the top 10%; 4 stars to the next 22.5%, 3 stars to the next 35%, 2 stars to the next 22.5% and 1 star to the bottom 10%. ETFs and mutual funds are considered a single population. The Overall Rating is derived from a weighted average of the performance figures associated with its 3-, 5-, and 10-year (if applicable) Morningstar Rating metrics. For more information about these ratings, including their methodology, please go to global.morningstar.com/managerdisclosures . Ratings for other share classes may vary and are subject to change monthly. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
©2023 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/ or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information.

426 Products | Allocation--30% to 50% Equity Category
Based on Risk-Adjusted Returns
OVERALL
(as of 12/31/2022)
Overall, 5 stars, 3-Year, 5 stars, 5-Year, 5 stars, and 10-Year, 5 stars, rated against 1145, 1145, 1090 and 816 products, respectively. Morningstar RatingTM is calculated for products with at least a 3-year history, based on a risk-adjusted return measure (excluding any applicable sale charges) and accounts for variations in a product's monthly performance. 5 stars are assigned to the top 10%; 4 stars to the next 22.5%, 3 stars to the next 35%, 2 stars to the next 22.5% and 1 star to the bottom 10%. ETFs and mutual funds are considered a single population. The Overall Rating is derived from a weighted average of the performance figures associated with its 3-, 5-, and 10-year (if applicable) Morningstar Rating metrics. For more information about these ratings, including their methodology, please go to global.morningstar.com/managerdisclosures . Ratings for other share classes may vary and are subject to change monthly. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
©2023 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/ or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information.

1145 Products | Large Value Category
Based on Risk-Adjusted Returns
OVERALL
(as of 12/31/2022)
Overall, 5 stars, 3-Year, 5 stars, 5-Year, 5 stars, and 10-Year, 5 stars, rated against 1145, 1145, 1090 and 816 products, respectively. Morningstar RatingTM is calculated for products with at least a 3-year history, based on a risk-adjusted return measure (excluding any applicable sale charges) and accounts for variations in a product's monthly performance. 5 stars are assigned to the top 10%; 4 stars to the next 22.5%, 3 stars to the next 35%, 2 stars to the next 22.5% and 1 star to the bottom 10%. ETFs and mutual funds are considered a single population. The Overall Rating is derived from a weighted average of the performance figures associated with its 3-, 5-, and 10-year (if applicable) Morningstar Rating metrics. For more information about these ratings, including their methodology, please go to global.morningstar.com/managerdisclosures . Ratings for other share classes may vary and are subject to change monthly. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
©2023 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/ or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information.

1145 Products | Large Value Category
Based on Risk-Adjusted Returns
OVERALL
(as of 12/31/2022)
Overall, 5 stars, 3-Year, 5 stars, 5-Year, 5 stars, and 10-Year, 5 stars, rated against 701, 701, 609 and 420 products, respectively. Morningstar RatingTM is calculated for products with at least a 3-year history, based on a risk-adjusted return measure (excluding any applicable sale charges) and accounts for variations in a product's monthly performance. 5 stars are assigned to the top 10%; 4 stars to the next 22.5%, 3 stars to the next 35%, 2 stars to the next 22.5% and 1 star to the bottom 10%. ETFs and mutual funds are considered a single population. The Overall Rating is derived from a weighted average of the performance figures associated with its 3-, 5-, and 10-year (if applicable) Morningstar Rating metrics. For more information about these ratings, including their methodology, please go to global.morningstar.com/managerdisclosures . Ratings for other share classes may vary and are subject to change monthly. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
©2023 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/ or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information.

701 Products | Foreign Large Blend Category
Based on Risk-Adjusted Returns
OVERALL
(as of 12/31/2022)
Overall, 4 stars, 3-Year, 3 stars, 5-Year, 3 stars, and 10-Year, 5 stars, rated against 318, 318, 297 and 176 products, respectively. Morningstar RatingTM is calculated for products with at least a 3-year history, based on a risk-adjusted return measure (excluding any applicable sale charges) and accounts for variations in a product's monthly performance. 5 stars are assigned to the top 10%; 4 stars to the next 22.5%, 3 stars to the next 35%, 2 stars to the next 22.5% and 1 star to the bottom 10%. ETFs and mutual funds are considered a single population. The Overall Rating is derived from a weighted average of the performance figures associated with its 3-, 5-, and 10-year (if applicable) Morningstar Rating metrics. For more information about these ratings, including their methodology, please go to global.morningstar.com/managerdisclosures . Ratings for other share classes may vary and are subject to change monthly. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
©2023 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/ or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information.

318 Products | Foreign Large Value Category
Based on Risk-Adjusted Returns
OVERALL
(as of 12/31/2022)
Overall, 4 stars, 3-Year, 3 stars, 5-Year, 3 stars, and 10-Year, 4 stars, rated against 279, 279, 248 and 184 products, respectively. Morningstar RatingTM is calculated for products with at least a 3-year history, based on a risk-adjusted return measure (excluding any applicable sale charges) and accounts for variations in a product's monthly performance. 5 stars are assigned to the top 10%; 4 stars to the next 22.5%, 3 stars to the next 35%, 2 stars to the next 22.5% and 1 star to the bottom 10%. ETFs and mutual funds are considered a single population. The Overall Rating is derived from a weighted average of the performance figures associated with its 3-, 5-, and 10-year (if applicable) Morningstar Rating metrics. For more information about these ratings, including their methodology, please go to global.morningstar.com/managerdisclosures . Ratings for other share classes may vary and are subject to change monthly. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
©2023 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/ or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information.

279 Products | Muni National Interm Category
Based on Risk-Adjusted Returns
OVERALL
(as of 12/31/2022)
Overall, 4 stars, 3-Year, 3 stars, 5-Year, 4 stars, and 10-Year, 4 stars, rated against 529, 529, 472 and 342 products, respectively. Morningstar RatingTM is calculated for products with at least a 3-year history, based on a risk-adjusted return measure (excluding any applicable sale charges) and accounts for variations in a product's monthly performance. 5 stars are assigned to the top 10%; 4 stars to the next 22.5%, 3 stars to the next 35%, 2 stars to the next 22.5% and 1 star to the bottom 10%. ETFs and mutual funds are considered a single population. The Overall Rating is derived from a weighted average of the performance figures associated with its 3-, 5-, and 10-year (if applicable) Morningstar Rating metrics. For more information about these ratings, including their methodology, please go to global.morningstar.com/managerdisclosures . Ratings for other share classes may vary and are subject to change monthly. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
©2023 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/ or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information.

529 Products | Short-Term Bond Category
Based on Risk-Adjusted Returns

 

1  Economic Analysis & CME Group, as of 11/7/22. 

Balanced Portfolio is represented by 50% S&P 500 Index/50% Bloomberg US Aggregate Bond Index. US Equities are represented by the S&P 500 Index. The S&P 500 Index is a market capitalization-weighted price index composed of 500 widely held common stocks. Bonds are represented by the Bloomberg US Aggregate Bond Index. The Bloomberg US Aggregate Bond Index is composed of securities that cover the US investment-grade fixed-rate bond market, with index components for government and corporate securities, mortgage pass-through securities, and asset-backed securities. Cash is represented by the Bloomberg US Treasury Bill 1-3 Month Index, which is designed to measure the performance of public obligations of the US Treasury that have a remaining maturity of greater than or equal to 1 month and less than 3 months. Corporates are represented by the Bloomberg US Corporate Index, a market-weighted index of investment-grade corporate fixed-rate debt issues with maturities of one year or more. High Yield is represented by the Bloomberg US Corporate High Yield Total Return Index, an unmanaged broad-based market-value-weighted index that tracks the total-return performance of non-investment grade, fixed-rate, publicly placed, dollar-denominated and nonconvertible debt registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. International equities are represented by the MSCI World ex USA Index, a free float-adjusted market-capitalization index that captures large- and mid-cap representation across developed-markets countries excluding the United States. MSCI performance is shown net of dividend withholding tax. Mortgage backed-securities (MBS) are represented by the Bloomberg US MBS Index, which tracks fixed-rate agency mortgage-backed passthrough securities guaranteed by Ginnie Mae (GNMA), Fannie Mae (FNMA), and Freddie Mac (FHLMC). Municipal bonds are represented by the Bloomberg Municipal Bond Index, an unmanaged index that is considered representative of the broad market for investment-grade, tax-exempt bonds with a maturity of at least one year. Treasuries are represented by the Bloomberg US Treasury Index, an unmanaged index of prices of US Treasury bonds with maturities of one to 30 years. 

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Important Risks: Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. • Fixed-income security risks include credit, liquidity, call, duration, event and interest-rate risk. As interest rates rise, bond prices generally fall. • Foreign investments may be more volatile and less liquid than US investments and are subject to the risk of currency fluctuations and adverse political, economic and regulatory developments. These risks may be greater, and include additional risks, for investments in emerging markets. • Investments in high-yield (“junk”) bonds involve greater risk of price volatility, illiquidity, and default than higher-rated debt securities. • Obligations of US Government agencies are supported by varying degrees of credit but are generally not backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government. • Municipal securities may be adversely impacted by state/local, political, economic, or market conditions. Although the Fund primarily invests in municipal securities that are exempt from federal income taxes, investors may be subject to the federal Alternative Minimum Tax as well as state and local income taxes. Capital gains, if any, are taxable. • Mortgage-related and asset-backed securities’ risks include credit, interest-rate, prepayment, and extension risk.

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