Friday, October 23, 2009

How do Harvard Economists Invest?

This article is summarized from the University newspaper The Harvard Crimson.

Greg Mankiw

Mankiw, professor of the largest economics course at Harvard and author of the textbook "Principles of Economics," is a long-term buy-and-hold investor, but does not think he is smart enough to time the markets. His portfolio consists of 2/3 stocks and 1/3 bonds, balancing the higher risk of equities with the steadiness of fixed income. When his portfolio took a hit in the financial crisis, he rebalanced by adding more cash to his equity position. His investments are widely diversified, including international holdings and mainly consist of low-cost index funds. He is invested not only in the US, but in Europe, Asia and the emerging markets.

John Campbell

Campbell, chair of the Economics Department, is an asset pricing specialist and no stranger to active investing, lending his expertise to the hedge fund Arrow Street Capital, and helping to oversee the Harvard endowment fund. With his own money, Campbell avoids stocks and focuses on less risky assets. The article doesn't detail what those assets are, but implies that Campbell may be active in the real estate market. Campbell believes stocks are looking more attractive with the recent rebound in the economy and believes this is a great time for young people to invest.

Claudia Goldin

Goldin, an economic historian specializing in labor economics, comes "from a family of people who are not risk takers," and is well-schooled in the history of hard times. Her approach to investing is very conservative and consists mainly of conservative retirement funds.

All in all, this brief look at three investment styles of Harvard economists left me mildly surprised with their conservativeness when it comes to their own money. My style is most similar to Mankiw, but they all seemed to place an emphasis on balancing capital preservation with growth. No one was a go-go investor, riding the wild swings of the market, hoping to hit a home run. They all seemed to be patient, methodical, almost boring in their investment approaches, which is how investing should be.

No comments:

Post a Comment