Permanent Portfolio Performance and Historical Returns

Let’s get to the meat the Permanent Portfolio performance: How well does it actually work? The answer is that the Permanent Portfolio has performed very well over the last 40 years. These and other topics are all covered in the new book.

In a prior post we talked about the Permanent Portfolio allocation which is:

25% – Stocks (in a broad based stock index fund like the S&P 500)
25% – Long Term Treasury Bonds
25% – Gold Bullion
25% – Cash (in a Treasury Money Market Fund)

This allocation will provide protection when the economy shifts through the cycles of prosperity, inflation, deflation and recession.

Now, some may be thinking that this allocation sounds very different than what they’ve seen elsewhere. For instance, the idea of owning gold is scoffed at by some investment advisors because it has no dividends or interest. Long Term Bonds? Many will tell you that they’re too risky due to rising interest rates. How about Cash? Isn’t holding a bunch of cash missing out on the hot stock market action? And, only 25% in stocks? Well everyone knows that stocks always beat every other investment so surely you want more than 25%, right? Right!?

Not exactly.

The reality is the investment markets are uncertain and unpredictable. What may look good in a theoretical backtest may blow up horribly as economic conditions change. Even worse, portfolio strategies that should work well based history often don’t work in actual application as people abandon them due to volatility and long periods of underperformance. Finally, every reputable study on the subject has shown that relying on your gut instinct, hunches, investment gurus and hot tips to run a portfolio is a road to disaster for performance and safety.

The Permanent Portfolio strategy works because it has very wide and true diversification. You have exposure to assets that can grow your money safely at all times without having to predict the future. You also have protection in the diversification against losing large amounts of money which can cause you to abandon the strategy in bad markets.

A Couple Small Changes

I did make two small changes to the original Permanent Portfolio as investment vehicles have changed in type and availability over the years. Harry Browne recommended using the Treasury Money Market Fund for cash. I personally like using Short Term Treasuries in combination with a Treasury Money Market Fund which provides nearly identical risks but slightly better returns on your cash. Also, instead of using the S&P 500 Index, I’ve chosen to use the Total Stock Market Index(also called the Russell 3000, or Wilshire 5000 index). The Total Stock Market Index provides wider stock diversification (holds 3-7000 stocks) with slightly better results than the S&P 500 (which holds 500 stocks). The slightly better result is because the Total Stock Market also holds small and medium sized company stocks which can sometimes outperform the large company stocks of the S&P 500 alone. The Total Stock Market also has expected higher tax efficiency due to how the index is constructed and managed.

You can use my changes or not. It doesn’t matter much. If you stick to the S&P 500 and Treasury Money Market Fund as originally recommended the results are within about 0.50% (one half percent) annually (favoring short-term bonds and total stock market) through the years.

Historical Returns

Let’s look at the score card and see how the Permanent Portfolio Allocation has done from 1972-2011 (1972 is the furthest we have data for Gold which was taken off the fixed exchange rate in 1971). The growth assumes $10,000 starting investment.

The assumption in this table is we rebalance each year to get back to our 25% allocation split among all four asset classes. Percentages are rounded to the nearest tenth. 

This table uses the data directly from the Simba Spreadsheet on the Diehards Forum. Some of the numbers are lower than what the Morningstar SBBI yearbook may show for certain assets (such as Long Term Treasury Bonds). However I have opted to use the Simba Data simply because it is widely available to anyone where the SBBI data is not.

Because I am using Simba’s data, it will be slightly different than actual returns I post each year that uses Morningstar data and longer term bonds. But the data is close enough that the principal goals of stability and good returns are illustrated regardless. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

  • Stocks – Total Stock Market index
  • Bonds – Treasury 20+ year long term bonds
  • Cash – Treasury 1-2 year notes
  • Gold – Gold bullion
  • Losses in Red
Year Stocks Bonds Cash Gold Total
Return of Permanent Portfolio
with Permanent Portfolio
1971 $10,000
1972 16.7 5.4 3.6 48.7 18.6 $11,860
1973 -18.3 -1.4 5.8 71.2 14.4 $13,563
1974 -27.3 4.1 8.8 72.0 14.4 $15,517
1975 38.4 8.9 7.6 -27.6 6.8 $16,578
1976 26.5 16.5 8.6 -4.5 11.8 $18,530
1977 -4.4 -1.0 3.4 22.2 5.1 $19,468
1978 7.3 -1.5 5.2 36.5 11.9 $21,781
1979 22.8 -1.5 10.1 125.6 39.3 $30,334
1980 32.4 -4.2 13.8 14.7 14.2 $34,636
1981 -3.9 1.6 18.6 -32.9 -4.1 $33,206
1982 20.6 40.0 19.2 14.5 23.6 $41,033
1983 21.8 0.4 8.3 -16.6 3.5 $42,457
1984 4.3 15.2 12.5 -19.5 3.1 $43,783
1985 31.9 30.7 12.9 5.3 20.2 $52,625
1986 15.9 24.2 11.6 20.8 18.1 $62,162
1987 1.5 -3.2 5.7 21.7 6.4 $66,167
1988 17.8 9.2 5.6 -15.6 4.2 $68,972
1989 28.7 17.9 8.4 -3.2 12.9 $77,900
1990 -6.2 5.8 8.6 -1.9 1.6 $79,138
1991 34.4 17.4 10.4 -10.4 13.0 $89,398
1992 9.6 7.4 6.5 -6.1 4.3 $93,274
1993 10.4 16.8 6.4 17.2 12.7 $105,124
1994 -0.2 -7.0 -0.6 -2.6 -2.6 $102,407
1995 35.8 30.1 12.1 0.6 19.6 $122,526
1996 21.0 -1.3 4.4 -5.0 4.8 $128,387
1997 31.0 13.9 6.4 -21.7 7.4 $137,875
1998 23.3 13.1 7.4 -1.2 10.6 $152,506
1999 23.8 -8.7 1.9 0.4 4.4 $159,159
2000 -10.6 19.7 8.8 -5.8 3.0 $163,997
2001 -11.0 4.3 7.8 0.4 0.4 $164,643
2002 -21.0 16.7 8.0 25.0 7.2 $176,451
2003 31.4 2.7 2.4 19.1 13.9 $200,948
2004 12.5 7.1 1.0 4.5 6.3 $213,584
2005 6.0 6.6 1.8 17.8 8.0 $230,735
2006 15.5 1.7 3.8 22.0 10.7 $255,522
2007 5.5 9.2 7.9 30.6 13.3 $289,500
2008 -37.0 22.5 6.7 5.0 -0.7 $287,415
2009 28.7 -12.1 1.4 24.0 10.5 $317,651
2010 17.1 8.9 2.6 29.3 14.5 $363,655
2011 1.0 29.3 2.3 9.6 10.5 $401,903
2012 16.3 3.5 0.7 6.6 6.8 $429,041
CAGR  9.6%

Data pulled from the Simba Spreadsheet on the Diehards Forum. NOTE: Gold prices were largely fixed before 1971 and tied to the dollar. So the prices of gold did not move according to market fluctuations much before 1971.

Here is how it looks graphically. Note the wild swings in value of the various assets turn into a smooth line inside the portfolio with no large losses in value.

Permanent Portfolio Performance 1972-2011

Permanent Portfolio Performance 1972-2011

The worse loss for the portfolio in any one year was 1981 which had you down only about –4%. The market problems through the decades were barely registered in the final return each year. This means the portfolio was able to provide these solid and stable returns with very low volatility and risk.

You’re probably wondering how this portfolio compares to other strategies. The Permanent Portfolio was able to rack up the following returns against these competitors if you invested $10,000 back in 1972:

1972-2011 CAGR Growth of 10K
Permanent Portfolio 9.7% $401,903
100% Total Stock Market 9.7% $403,271
100% Total Bond Market 7.7% $197,596
50% Total Stock Market/ 50% Total Bond Market 9.1% $328,000

Now, some might be thinking: “Hey, gold was price controlled before 1971 so it’s not fair using 1972 as the start because the price of gold shot up. It made it look better than it really was!” (OK, maybe you weren’t thinking that, but I was because it’s true and we need to consider its impact). We’ll start a couple years out in 1974 then, enough time that the gold market would have settled out.

For the stock lovers it helps also because the years 1973 and 1974 are eliminated. Over that time the market lost 40% in value! A $10,000 stock allocation in 1973 was worth only $5,940 by the end of 1974. If we adjust for inflation, that stock allocation sunk to $4,864 in value! But in this table we get to completely sweep those minor details under the carpet.

1974-2011 CAGR Growth of 10K
Permanent Portfolio 9.3% $296,317
100% Total Stock Market 10.4% $422,812
100% Total Bond Market 7.9% $181,518
50% Total Stock Market/ 50% Total Bond Market 9.5% $319,320

The Permanent Portfolio allocation is competitive with the 100% stock allocation and the 50/50 bond allocation. Anything within +-0.50% of each other is essentially market noise that can easily flip back and forth each year.

The most important part is the Permanent Portfolio never had wild gut wrenching swings in value. In 1973-1974 stocks lost 50% in value after inflation. In 1987, stocks dropped 25% in one day. During the 2000-2002 Internet bubble crash, stocks dove about 40% over two years and the NASDAQ dove 80%! In 2008 stocks were down about 40% for the year. 2011 was another lackluster year for stocks.

Yet given all the above the Permanent Portfolio was able to produce positive returns during these very bad markets. Most recently in 2008 we had the worst single year market crash since 1931 and the portfolio avoided virtually all losses (or even a small gain depending on what long term bond maturity you held). The Permanent Portfolio allowed you to avoid all those disasters but gave you performance on par with the far riskier 100% stock allocation.

Even better, the Permanent Portfolio was able to provide real after-inflation returns during some times when the stocks and bonds couldn’t (such as the decade of the 1970s and 2000s). This means that even though inflation may have been killing your stocks and bond returns (by giving you negative real growth even though they went up in value), the Permanent Portfolio was able to go above and beyond by several percentage points to give real results that weren’t being eroded by a falling dollar.

Take a look at the returns table above and notice how you’ll always have one asset class doing very well and one doing flat or badly (in red). Isn’t that counter-intuitive that you should be able to profit from that type of movement? Nope. It’s diversification in action. The way the Permanent Portfolio uses its assets to diversify according to economic conditions is what makes it work so well.

The above shows that the Permanent Portfolio has not only had good returns, but also low volatility and only very small losses. Those are all very good things for an investment portfolio.

Craig Rowland

I own the place.

86 Responses

  1. Greg M. says:


    Excellent analysis of the permanent portfolio. Harry would be proud. I’ve enjoyed reading your articles here and your posts at Bogleheads.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Max says:

    What do you think of these ideas for boosting the potential return?

    1) Replace “cash” with TIPS or a 50/50 mix of TIPS and short term treasuries.

    2) Replace Total Stock Market with a small cap index fund.

  3. craigr says:


    I’d stick with ST Bonds because they have a known track record for keeping up (more or less) with bad inflation as happened in the 1970’s. TIPS have not been tested under a truly bad inflation scenario as they have only been around 10 years in the US and there has been no high inflation in that time.

    As for Total Stock Market (TSM) vs. small caps. I’m a TSM guy. Small caps have had good performance and then really long stretches of underperformance compared to large cap stocks. TSM makes sure I get benefits no matter which side is doing well.

  4. Max says:

    “TIPS have not been tested under a truly bad inflation scenario as they have only been around 10 years in the US and there has been no high inflation in that time.”

    That’s true, but I would expect gold to do extremely well under any scenario so bad that TIPS fail.

    One more question…foreign equity, any role for it? I guess it’s more correlated with gold because of currency effects. Is that why it’s excluded, or some other reason?

  5. craigr says:


    Re: TIPS

    My main concern about TIPS is whether there are some risks that we can’t see right now that could impact the role of the cash portion in the balance. While they will probably be as OK, I’m not willing to make the switch personally. The cash is to buffer recessions and help out in deflations. It’s never going to provide a lot of returns whether you use ST bonds or TIPS. IMO. For taxable investors, TIPS are just not tax-friendly enough to warrant my holding them either.

    Some people have suggested using TIPS as a replacement for gold. This is definitely NOT recommended. TIPS will never move as hard or fast against high inflation as gold will.

    Re: Foreign Equity

    You can hold some foreign equity, but don’t go crazy. In my 25% allocation about 5% of the 20% was in the EAFE Index. This actually hurt my performance this year because international stocks did worse than the domestic US market. You got a double whammy as the EAFE index plunged and the US dollar recovered hurting the returns.

  6. Pres says:

    Interesting numbers.

    My first reaction was that they seemed too good to be true. Not everybody has an investment horizon long enough to include two gold bull markets, so I quickly ran your numbers for the period 1980-2000.
    Amazingly, even then the numbers were very respectable. Good work!

  7. Pres says:

    My math skills are as bad as my English though, so you’d better double check it. 😉

  8. craigr says:

    Hi Pres,

    Your numbers are probably right. I’m going to do a decade by decade breakdown in the near future and highlight some market happenings and how the portfolio responded to each. It should be interesting.

  9. Brad says:

    The numbers speak for themself. Thanks.

  10. Brad says:

    I compared table results of your permanent portfolio to the open ended mutual fund PRPFX. Totals from 1983 -2007 (25 years) – your permanant portfolio 209.6 total return and PRPFX 174.17 total return. I have noticed depending on what time periods you use PRPFX and the 4×25 portfolio are generally pretty close in returns.

  11. azjimbo says:

    Great work. I am very interested in the PP. I have just read Harry Browne’s Fail Safe Investing book. I then re-read the book for any info I mught have missed. Keep up the great work.

  12. craigr says:


    Besides reading his book Fail-Safe Investing, you should also consider listening to his archived radio podcasts that I have posted here. They contain a tremendous amount of detailed information on many investing topics not specifically covered in his book.

  13. Greg M. says:

    What is your source for the annual returns for gold?

  14. craigr says:

    Hi Greg,

    I grabbed my prices from this site:

    Then I kept it up to date in my own spreadsheet. I use the same spreadsheet to work out annual gains/losses.

    Keep in mind that gold in the US was price controlled more or less until 1971. Data before 1971 is going to show “zero” or so real growth which is correct. The dollar and gold were linked so therefore they didn’t move against each other.

    This leads into another subject about gold which I’ll put in the FAQ. But the basic idea is gold is not going to provide real returns over time. It will simply match inflation. However, if used in a portfolio with regular rebalancing the price swings are an effective way to show “growth” by banking the gains and buying back into it again when people have moved into some new assets as the economy shifts. Hope that helps.

  15. Ryan says:

    I understand using 1972 as a start date for returns because that was the ended of the fixed gold/cash exchange rate. Has anyone looked at data from further back with the following allocation?

    50% Cash
    25% Stocks
    25% Long Term Treasuries

    This would be a roughly equivalent portfolio. I have no idea where to find the appropriate data.

    Cross-posted at:

  16. craigr says:


    I had discussions with John Chandler who was Harry Browne’s publisher about a lot of this. 1972 is the date I generally use because most of our data that is easily accessible starts around then and yes that’s when the gold standard was broken internationally. However John Chandler discussed about in the late 70’s when Browne, Coxon, himself, and others started working on this idea how they went back decades and even paid to have computer analysis of the data done for them (which in the late 70’s was probably quite expensive and extraordinary for someone to do). Not only this, but they looked at economic history that drove asset classes as well.

    There is data that goes back to 1926 or so, but the gold prices were fixed and it’s hard to say exactly how things would have worked out in the strategy. Unfortunately investing is not an exact science and political and economic climates can have large effects on the outcomes. This is what makes backtesting of strategies so dangerous. It’s easy to come up with a high-performing asset allocation in hindsight. But we really don’t know what would have happened at the time if those asset classes were available for investors.

    The advantage of the PP strategy is it’s simple, widely diversified based on sound economic principles, battle-tested through good and very bad markets, and has a track record of providing reasonable growth while protecting capital. It’s not going to be the hottest performer over any one period. But over time I think it stands a good chance of being a reasonable way to invest and grow one’s money.

  17. dbmd says:

    apology for my ignorance but i have a few questions to help me get started

    1) specifically, how do i invest in each of the 4 categories ? hopefully there are online brokerages that offers all 4 types and the flexibility to move assets between them.
    2) timing for each of these categories.



  18. Todd says:

    Is there a way to work this portfolio into a taxable account? I could see the distributions from the LT Bonds and ST Treasuries would kill you tax wise. Also, paying 28% taxes on your gold gains (during rebalancing) isn’t so great either. I wonder if I would be better off with just using the retail mutual fund PRPFX. It does involve manager risk and higher expenses but offers a very tax efficient version of HBs 4×25 portfolio. What do you think? Thanks.

  19. craigr says:


    “1) specifically, how do i invest in each of the 4 categories ? hopefully there are online brokerages that offers all 4 types and the flexibility to move assets between them.”

    You may want to download the fail-safe investing e-book which explains this in detail. Also check out the FAQ section on this site where I have two FAQs up on stocks and bonds. I will have other FAQs done in the near future.

    “2) timing for each of these categories.”

    I can’t predict the future so can’t offer you any advice on timing. The markets are very choppy now so I understand your concern. At any time you’re going to have one asset doing well and one doing poorly. It’s just how the portfolio works.

  20. craigr says:


    “Is there a way to work this portfolio into a taxable account? I could see the distributions from the LT Bonds and ST Treasuries would kill you tax wise. Also, paying 28% taxes on your gold gains (during rebalancing) isn’t so great either. I wonder if I would be better off with just using the retail mutual fund PRPFX. It does involve manager risk and higher expenses but offers a very tax efficient version of HBs 4×25 portfolio. What do you think? Thanks.”

    Taxable investing is tough for any portfolio. Yes the LT bonds are taxed, but at least they aren’t taxable by the state where you live. As for gold, the 28% is also higher than I’d like, but because it is relatively infrequently balanced and doesn’t produce capital gains or interest it is not as bad as one may think.

    The PRPFX fund is very tax efficient though and has the highest rating from Morningstar for tax efficiency in a conservative allocation fund if I recall. So that is a possibility as well if you can accept the manager risk.

    Taxes are always a drag on performance, but sometimes you have to absorb the pain to solve a larger problem. For instance many people cite tax-free munis as the way for taxable investors to hold bonds. But there are market risks that wipe out this tax advantage (see my Bond FAQ). In 2008 for instance Muni bonds did relatively poorly compared to treasuries. Any tax advantage that existed for munis was utterly destroyed by the large spike in LT bond prices which saved the portfolio during that year.

  21. robyn says:

    Thanks for your extremely intelligent and interesting blog and especially for your valuable comments on the permanent portfolio.

    May i ask the following

    I have constructed a quasi permanent portfolio myself which is comprised of

    40% Stocks held in IWRD-iShares world index
    15% Gold bullion
    5% managed futures
    15% cash
    15% Bonds
    10% Property-simply my home.

    My question concerns the best way to achieve international diversification in Bonds and Cash/Currency. I have no confidence in the long term prospects for the dollar, euro or sterling-i hold swiss and euro bonds and cash- the euro because i live in the euro zone but may well be moving to either dubai or far east as the economies here become more moribund with statism, as will Obamas USA. Is there a way to achieve global diversification in bonds and currencies-wish i had been in Yen!-in the same manner as with stocks through iShares IWRD and ACWI?

  22. Craig,

    You made a calculation error in calculating the average yearly result from the permanent portfolio. This is 9,8% instead of 10%, not a big difference, but I may turn out to be bigger when using longer periods. You don’t want to calculate the average the same way as you calculate the average of the different assets. Instead you want to divide the end amount by starting amount, and deduct from that total percentage gain the average yearly results.

    Thanks for your great explanations about the permanent portfolio.

  23. Mad Max says:

    To obtain these returns is the portfolio ever rebalanced? If so, how often?

  24. James says:

    By chance do you think that owning a basket of precious metals would be better than just owning gold bullion?

  25. craigr says:


    Just own gold. Gold is a monetary metal and responds to inflation the strongest vs. silver, platinum, etc.

  26. craigr says:

    Mad Max,

    This assumes an annual rebalance. You can also use balancing bands of 15% on the low side (and buy back to 25%) or 35% on the high side ( and sell down to 25%). The rebalancing bands could work out so you don’t touch the portfolio for more than a year at a time which could significantly reduce tax and transaction costs.

  27. LISA COPLIN says:


  28. craigr says:


    Harry Browne actually advised people to just get it over with because you can’t predict the future. Other investors like to dollar cost average in. The risk you run in dollar cost averaging is letting emotions get in the way and turning it into a market timing maneuver. If you have the patience and emotional fortitude to dollar cost average religiously it may be OK, otherwise if you think you just want to get it over with Harry Browne would certainly be on your side with that decision.

    When I set my portfolio up years back I just took the plunge and did it all at once. Although I was quite nervous about doing so for all the reasons investors always have (Asset X is too high! Asset Y is too low!, etc.), I found that many months later I was much more relaxed. No matter what was going on in the news I just simply didn’t care too much because the portfolio allocation seemed to be doing what it was designed to do.

    With the markets so volatile today I understand the desire of people to move in slowly. I certainly wouldn’t fault them for thinking this way but would just say again that they shouldn’t turn it into a market timing maneuver. Since the future is unpredictable it could very well be that not diversifying could be just as bad as going in all at once.

  29. Lisa says:

    Hi Craig
    Thanks for the great blog. One more question? I have six ira’s of different types (between my husband and myself) with two different brokerages and find the gold portion a bit baffling. I understand the advantages of holding bullion and I do hold a little outside of ira’s, but not nearly enough to make up 25% of all assets. Can’t take out portions of each ira to roll into one gold ira either ( logistics nightmare). GLD would make it WAY easier. Is the etf really that bad an idea?

  30. craigr says:


    If that’s all you can do then it’s better than not holding any hard assets in the portfolio. I’d work to hold some outside the IRA as best you can as well.

  31. Dan says:

    I you were to set up this portfolio using low cost index funds, what funds would work?

  32. craigr says:


    You need four asset classes:

    1) A broad based stock market fund.
    2) A Treasury Money Market Fund
    3) Long Term Treasury Bonds
    4) Gold

    The website has descriptions of a couple of these asset classes under the FAQ section. If you wanted to implement it just with ETFs (and there are reasons not to do this entirely), then you could do:

    25% Stocks – IShares Russell 3000 ETF (IWV) or Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI)
    25% Long Term Treasury Bonds – iShares 20+ Treasury Bond ETF (TLT)
    25% Treasury Bills (Treasury MMF equivalent) – iShares short Treasury bill fund (SHV) or SPDR short treasury bill fund (BIL)
    25% Gold – iShares Gold ETF (IAU) or SPDR Gold ETF (GLD) or ZGLD (From Bank of Zurich)

    It’s better to own the bonds directly to save on fees and eliminate more layers of people. The gold is also best held in segregate storage but this has some logistical problems for people.

  33. Dan says:

    These returns don’t include any broker fees or purchase fees. right?

  34. mikem says:

    Thanks for the great article, but I have one question:

    Do these historical returns include interest/dividends? If not, then what would the returns look like if dividends were included? (I suspect they’d be much better :-)

    thanks again

  35. mikem says:

    two more questions.

    how often does this portfolio re-balance itself? Once a year?


    given the balance between inflationary allocations (gold and stocks), and deflationary allocations (short-term and long-term treasuries), how does this portfolio stack up if one uses alternative investments, or a basket (for example, instead of simply placing 25% in Gold, what about dividing up that 25% allocation among Silver (SLV), food commodities (DBA), and oil (USO))? Does this added diversification improve or hurt expected returns.

    This is my first exposure to the Permanent Portfolio Theory, so I’m pretty excited about it. Thanks!

  36. craigr says:


    The returns (like most historical returns you see) do not include fees. Generally you will want to subtract about 0.10% a year for a stock index fund. Index mutual funds generally have no fees for deposits or withdrawals (unless you are doing excessive transactions or holding them for too short a period – in other words trading them).

    Bonds can be held directly and incur no annual fees. Although there is a small commission to buy or sell, it is negligible compared to face value of the bond and the fact that you are only buying and selling each bond once every 10 years or so.

    Treasury MMF are also in the 0.10% range if you stick to a company like Vanguard. Or will be in that range if you use a T-Bill ETF like iShares Ticker SHV or SPDR Ticker BIL.

    Gold will have a commission for buying and selling usually about 2% each way. Plus there may be a nominal fee to store it at a bank if you decide to use a safe deposit box, etc. The fees for this type of service are sometimes even included free with some bank checking accounts as part of the package. If you use an ETF the expense ratio is about 0.40% a year. Segregated storage in a bank can be about 1% which is quite steep, but there is some convenience factors built in and banks offering this service will sometimes not charge commissions on bullion trades.

    Now if you use ETFS for everything then yes you’ll pay commissions on all transactions. But if you are doing bulk purchases and limiting your trades you can contain your costs. A discount broker may charge $9.95 for an ETF trade up to a very large amount so as a percentage of the transaction you can keep the costs very low.

    Overall I estimate portfolio maintenance fees to be in the 0.25-0.50% range each year. Probably closer to the lower end of that range. But you can be more conservative and take off 0.50% a year from the CAGR. This is still a reasonable expense for an investment portfolio.

    The biggest benefit is the portfolio does not have heavy turnover. So once you set it up it generally requires very little tinkering to keep it in balance which saves on commissions and taxes.

  37. craigr says:


    The returns are total returns which means interest and dividends are included.

    Rebalancing is when an asset is 15% of your portfolio or less or 35% and above. When something hits 35% of the portfolio you sell it down to 25%. When something is 15% or less of your portfolio you buy it back up to 25%. You can look at the portfolio once a year or so to determine these percentages. If they are within the bands then you need not do anything to adjust it. If these bands are too wide for you, then you can make it 20%/30% but just be aware of the additional costs you may be incurring on the transactions.

    Re: Dividing up the gold allocation.

    This question came up to Harry Browne many times. In fact one of his radio shows addresses it:

    The short answer is: No, don’t do this. Commodities move differently and for different reasons than gold. Silver is more of an industrial metal and not a monetary metal so it too moves differently than gold. Gold has attributes of a commodity so it can move for the same reason commodities do. But gold also has attributes of money so it can move for reasons that commodities don’t. Gold reacts very powerfully to threats to the dollar. You saw this in 2008 where commodity funds lost 50% or more of their value, but gold went up about 5% for the year. So you want to hold gold for the permanent portfolio. Anything else is considered a speculation.

  38. mikem says:

    Thanks Craig!


  39. Tom D says:

    Browne used Swiss franc bills or bonds as well as US bills and bonds. PRPFX does this as well. Did Browne change his allocation later on? I read him in the easrly 1970’s and a bit later.

  40. craigr says:

    Swiss francs were taken out of the portfolio by the time Browne wrote his 1987 book “Why the Best Laid Investment Plans Go Wrong”. The gold in the portfolio took over the function of inflation protection that the Swiss Franc once shared. Also, in 2000 the Swiss completely broke from the gold standard so even he Swiss are on a full fiat currency standard now and open to the same risks of inflation that everyone else is with over-printing of money (although the Swiss may be much less tolerant of this behavior).

  41. Limoman says:

    Well, Like all the others.. It’s all in how you want to Look at it..
    You note that The Total Bond Fund only did $142k and change? But you don’t show a Tot.Bond Fund, just ST and LT..
    I show just owning LT Bonds be worth over $243k = 143% by 36yrs = almost 4% apy
    but you failed to Compare to other Bonds such as Muni’s, Global And EMD’s..
    TGBAX has been the Little Secret among pro’s for their own $..
    And Keeping 25% in Cash? I don’t think you really think a person with $1 Million is going to want to let $250k sit in a MMkt account? Or ST bond? S/B/at the Least In a Muni..

    And All this Boggleheads and Indexing is a Cult.. that Indexing DOESN’T Work Nearly was well as other methods..! Example > btwn 99-08′ a 50/50 Index port has a $11,000 Tot Value vs a 50/50 group of 4 Bal. Funds is worth over $21,000! ( FPACX,OAKBX, PRPFX & PRWCX ) And the Indexer’s/Boggleheads and Jack Boggle are Still Licking their Wounds.. after last yr.. and for the past 10 yrs and are quick to Blame everyone else..

    Sorry, But For Active Worlking People? Own nothing But Balanced Funds and Let those Pro’s Fight Wall Street and after Retiring? 50% In Bal. Funds and put the Rest in Bonds Like Bill Larkin at Cabot Mgt. Does for their Clients..( In 08′ BF’s Lost ave -14%, but the other 50% in Bonds Made over 17% = +1.5%)

    If you must play Indexes? Only Play the VWINX At Vanguard.. (50%) and keep the other 50% in LT Bonds, Global and EMD’s.. and Keep 10% in COH in ST Bond Funds.. to buy on the Dips/Corrections or Crashes, like last yr was VFITX or VSGBX and this Yr it’s been in FFRHX and VFSTX.

    And Do you really Beleive in using Past Performance? Guess what? BoggleHeads Don’t..Nor does Boggle , it’s only 25% of the Equation.. Bunch of hypocrites that Use Past Performance to Push their Theroies , but then will say things like past Performance Won’t Necessarily Reflect Future Performance…

    You Get What you Pay For.. With all the New Investing Tools from ETF’s to Leveraging, the Amature Hasn’t got a Fair Chance anymore, If you don’t have a Min. of $500k, then go the Cheap Route mentoned above, but For Most Investors, we do , thus Hire a Good Pro/Firm and you will do just fine..You can either pay Funds the ave of 1% apy or pay a Firm to do better than you the same .. It’s Upto you..

    You can keep your Large Cap or TSM-Equities on a Direct Basis… The Markets Have gotten so sophisticated, only Fellow Pro’s can Play that game and Shirley not any Amatures.. Either Own Managed Bal. Funds or Hire a Decent Pro.. or Firm..

    Of course, Wall Street doesn’t want everyone to use AMBF’s ( Active MgeBalFunds) since they would have to try to Con Fellow Pro’s and that’s not a good thing.. Most make their $ off Amature Investors..not the pro’s…

    Also Your Port. shows a 10% apy? But the LT Bond shows a 9.6% apy?
    Seems to me.. the LT Bond Is the better way to go for Both Safety and To be able to sleep at nite….?

    As for GOLD? Since 1996? thru 03′? It did Terrible..My Balanced Funds did the same and Added Bonds Did Better..

    Own Gold Coins? Yeah Right… Where you going to Keep them? Pay $100/yr in a Bank SDBox?

  42. craigr says:


    My replies are inline:

    ”I show just owning LT Bonds be worth over $243k = 143% by 36yrs = almost 4% apy but you failed to Compare to other Bonds such as Muni’s, Global And EMD’s..”

    The Permanent Portfolio idea does not advocate holding any type of bond but US Treasuries. This avoids credit and default risk present in Munis, global bonds and Emerging Market Debt. As 2008 showed, when the markets are really hurting people want US Treasury Bonds. Not bonds from California, not bonds from France nor bonds from Brazil. US investors especially don´t want to buy foreign bonds because it introduces significant currency risk. The fall of the dollar the past several years is the largest driver behind foreign bond performance. If this trend reverses it could severely hurt US investors holding foreign bonds.

    ”And Keeping 25% in Cash? I don’t think you really think a person with $1 Million is going to want to let $250k sit in a MMkt account? Or ST bond? S/B/at the Least In a Muni..”

    I actually know very wealthy people who keep a good amount of funds in cash. When you obtain a large amount of wealth the name of the game is not losing it, not trying to grow it taking huge risks. So cash is used much more often for high net worth people than you may think. It also allows them to invest that money at more attractive stock market prices when severe downturns happen.

    And again as 2008 has shown, when the markets go crazy having cash on hand is an excellent diversifier. People with cash and LT bonds last year did very well. They were able to use that money this year to buy stocks at prices not seen in 10 years. Cash can add tremendous return to a portfolio for such a ”low return” asset when used correctly.

    ”And All this Boggleheads and Indexing is a Cult.. that Indexing DOESN’T Work Nearly was well as other methods..!”

    This has been shown to be false in so many studies that I don´t have time to list them all here. The important thing to understand is that the index IS the market. Somewhere around 90% of all trades each day happen between professionals. One professional decided it was a good idea to sell a security and another professional, using the same information, decided it was a good idea to buy that security. The fact that two equally educated and informed traders can reach conclusions that are 180 degrees apart tells you that the information they are acting on is random noise.

    ”Bal. Funds is worth over $21,000!”

    Actively managed balanced funds have not only higher expenses, but significant manager risk. Meaning that the manager can decide to do something very risky with the fund´s money that could pay off big, or be a huge disaster. Over the past few decades index funds have handily beat more than 80% of all actively managed funds at least (it is probably well over 90% but I don´t have my figures here now). This is being generous because it doesn´t include the actively managed funds that were closed down and simply vanished through the years.

    Lastly, there are thousands of actively managed funds out there. You simply can´t predict which ones are going to do the best going forward. Actively managed funds last year got creamed in the markets. Their managers weren´t able to add any real value to investors in avoiding the damage.

    ”Sorry, But For Active Worlking People? Own nothing But Balanced Funds and Let those Pro’s Fight Wall Street ”

    See above. The pros on Wall St. are trading against each other and reaching opposite conclusions. They offer zero value to an investor trying to beat the market. They are the market.

    ”And Do you really Beleive in using Past Performance? Guess what? BoggleHeads Don’t..Nor does Boggle , it’s only 25% of the Equation.. Bunch of hypocrites that Use Past Performance to Push their Theroies , but then will say things like past Performance Won’t Necessarily Reflect Future Performance…”

    I can only use past performance to disprove and idea, not prove it. But since nobody can tell me what is going to happen in the future, it´s all we´ve got.

    The past performance of the Permanent Portfolio has shown that it has survived very bad inflation, good markets, sideways markets and now deflation. The worst loss it had was very low compared to the alternatives. It also provided moderate growth with low volatility. All of this was achieved without having to time the markets or hire some managers to trade your account for high fees. It may not be perfect, but it´s a heck of a lot better idea than most investing advice you run across that is chasing the latest hot peformer or hot manager.

    ”Hire a Good Pro/Firm and you will do just fine..You can either pay Funds the ave of 1% apy or pay a Firm to do better than you the same .. It’s Upto you..”

    Pros on Wall St. have no better chance at beating an index than an individual. For this lower performance you are going to pay very high fees. Wall St. pros offer no value to an individual and should be avoided at all costs.The performance data on active managers is abysmal. Bogle was right about indexing and will continue to be right about it. Indexers reap the research and expenses Wall St. analysts provide by just owning what everyone else owns and not worrying about it any more.

    ”Also Your Port. shows a 10% apy? But the LT Bond shows a 9.6% apy?
    Seems to me.. the LT Bond Is the better way to go for Both Safety and To be able to sleep at nite….?”

    LT Bonds did very poorly during the high inflation of the 1970s. If that inflation returns again you need an asset like Gold to offset the losses.

    ”As for GOLD? Since 1996? thru 03?? It did Terrible..My Balanced Funds did the same and Added Bonds Did Better..”

    Well I hear this all the time as a reason not to own gold, and one I used to believe myself. But the data stands on its own that Gold can under certain conditions be a life saver in a portfolio. For instance, since the early 2000’s Gold has done perfectly fine and carried the portfolio for nearly the past 10 years. Gold may very well do poorly again in the future just as it has in the past. For now though I´m happy to harvest the gains and use that money to buy more stocks and bonds. And when gold does poorly in a balanced portfolio other assets can carry the weight. No asset works well all the time. Just ask stock investors the past 10 years.

    The portfolio being described here holds a balanced allocation between stocks, bonds, cash and gold and holds them all the time. It does not try to time the market or select hot assets. It also doesn´t rely on expensive and ineffective money managers. It may not be the portfolio for you, but it has a couple decades of empircal data behind it at this point and has worked just fine.

    I don´t advise anyone to touch actively managed funds. Overall they have a very poor track record compared to indexing, and even worse when compared to the Permanent Portfolio allocation. I wouldn´t put a dime in them personally.

  43. Marc De Mesel says:

    Hello Craig,

    Thank you for your hard work. It’s very valuable to me.

    I can’t find the LT data. Where do you pull your LT data from?

    The Simba Spreadsheet on the Diehards Forum where to refer seems to only publish:
    Tamasset Spreadsheet 1972-1986
    Vanguards Long Term Treasury(VUSTX) 1987-2008

    However, the Vanguard VUSTX has only +22.52% for 2008 and not +33.4% like mentioned here.

    I could find another fund, the Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund, but even here the returns for 2008 are only +28%.

    Seeing forward to your reply

  44. Limoman says:

    Well, Hope this Helps ….
    Before Retiring, The Company I was with had some of the Top Investment People & Firms in the Business as Clients and Advisors… an After yrs of Serving them, we developed good relations, had a List of clients to recommend to other clientsfor vaous needs and got alot of good advice and guidence in return for doing that and One of the most consistant suggestions when the Market gets ” Questionable was to Move Into Treasuries..and when things Look Good? Move into Corporate Bonds..” ( We didn’t have Leveraged/Inverse Funds for the rest of us to buy back then)

    I CK 4 SOURCES EVERY 4TH QTR for the Following Yr for my ST $ ( I keep 3 yrs of Cash to pay my est. bills in retirement)
    General Consenseous for going into 2008 was the same as for 2007:
    To Levergage Treasuries was Pro Funds// 125% , $5k Min thru Broker and $15k direct. Min. Cost ( for 08′ it was it’s Gov’t Plus of GVPIX and I got 27% out of it. b4 selling it)
    For going into 2009 it was VFSTX, FFRHX and to Short Treasuries.. Using Pro Funds ( RRPIX = 36% YTD )

    If you find some good sources to follow that are good on doing this for Short Term $, you can also do the same for your LT..if you “read btwn the lines”…

    I moved over 50% of my $ out of my Equities and Other Bonds into VFITX and VUSTX and another 20% into the Pro Funds-US Govt. Plus GVPIX..

    Got the Heads up on “Go Treas. for Bear Mkts.” for yrs from my Limo Clients and I ‘ve Been doing things like this Since 99′ and did about the same ( Going into Treasuries) for the Previous Bear as well.. ( 00-02′).. It worked Great then , so I figured why not this time around?

    For 09′ it was Gen. Con. to go 75% for the 1st 6mos in FFRHX, 25% In VWEHX and then move it into VFSTX and.or your usual Bond Funds you have in your Port,,, Keep in mind, Institutions Run the Show and they aer about 6 mos ahead of the curve.. Thus Own the funds for the 1st 6 mos to get most of the run up and then bail..take your $ off the table and your profits and go back to your traditional funds .. Don’t get greedy.. is the most common mistake..

    We gave this heads up manytimes in 99-01′ and again in 07′ thu 1st qtr of 08′ in the M* Boards and to go Corp. for 03’/04’ and again for this yr .

    2 of the 4 Also Recommended Going EMD’s for Bull Markets or for the LT. B&H many yrs ago and still advocate 7.5-11% allocation in them..FNMIX, PREMX and TEGIX are most noted.. and their Yields are just Great as well.

    Hope this helps

  45. craigr says:


    The LT historical data is sourced from Simba’s spreadsheet from the Diehards site which used the Ibbotson data for 20 year bonds I believe. You can also see another independently generated spreadsheet here:

    The Vanguard LT Treasury bond fund has a much shorter duration/maturity than the long term bonds advocated by Browne for the Permanent Portfolio. While Browne advocated holding LT Treasuries with 25-30 years maturity and selling them when they reach 20 years, the Vanguard LT Bond fund has an average maturity of only around 17 years and duration around 11 years. A 20-30 year bond (or bond fund like TLT that uses bonds 20+ years) will have a duration somewhere around 15 years. This means that that for every point in interest +-1% the Vanguard bond fund will move +-11% but an individual bond (or the TLT bond fund) will move +-15% (duration is roughly how much the fund moves for each percentage move in market interest rates).

    In the case last year if you owned bonds in the 25-30 year range you had returns greater than 30%. If you owned the Vanguard LT bond your duration is even shorter than the TLT fund and you only were up 22%.

    Which gets back to the issue of the best kind of bonds to own for the portfolio strategy. They are in order:

    1) 25-30 year LT Treasury Bonds owned directly by you at either a broker or Treasury Direct purchased at auction or secondary market.
    2) The iShares TLT fund
    3) The Vanguard LT Treasury fund

    The Vanguard fund is a distant second though to the first two choices.

  46. Ryan says:

    Hi Craig. Thanks for all your hard work on this.

    I was wondering, did Harry have any insights on Roth vs. Traditional retirement accounts? My employer offers both Roth and Traditional contributions, and I’m a bit confused as to which one to select. I also live in a high tax state (California), so I don’t know if that would make a difference.


  47. Limoman says:

    Roth vs. Traditional retirement accounts

    Re: If Don’t need the IRA Deduction and want to Pay taxes as you Go, Load up the Roth instead.. Many are converting $ out of their IRA’s to Roths and paying More Taxes now vs Paying as they went yrs ago..

    And I know very few who take the IRA and invest the Tax Savings as well, they spend it.. and I think that is Exactly what The Gov’t figured most would do when they created that IRA garbage.. A bait and Switch deal also.. “You’ll be paying Less taxes when your Retire” BS… You load up your IRA with BONDS right? But what happens when you have to start taking the $ out of those Bonds? You get Hit big time!

    They also know top end Investors will have more $ when they retire and the Smae or higher Incomes and thus be paying the same or higher taxes with Less Deductions…( Mortge, etc)….

    I know I and my friends are now..

  48. Dan says:

    Turns out my retirement account will only allow me to invest in mutial funds, not ETFs or stocks. Any advice on what mutial funds may fit the criteria?

  49. Limoman says:

    well, Not sure this kind of Port will continue to do very well into the next Decade, but it has done me right the past one..

    75% in: Global ( TGBAX), EMD ( FNMIX) , GOLD ( USAGX ) , VIPSX ( TIPS), GNMA ( TGLMX ) and VBMFX and the new PUDGX
    25% in ST Bonds on a yr-yr basis.. 07′ was VSGBX & VBISX, 08′ Was ST. Treas. and this yr it’s been in FFRHX.
    And taking Hints from also owing PRPFX & HSTRX.

    of course, I only need less then 3% from my Savings funding my Retirement..Which was the Plan to have before retiring at age 55.

    While working and after going thru all that Indexing and performance chasing business, it was nothing but Letting the Pro’s take care of things:
    VWELX and VWINX = a 50/50 ave mix.
    it forced me to Save More and Live on Less..
    Which turned out for the best for me and the family..
    and gave up having “Illusions of Grandeur” of frocing the Market to make up for my short Commings to allow me to spend more and save less routine.. It didn’t work for me, nor my friends..

    Just put 25% + out of your income btwn Into your Home and a Retirement Port and you’d be fine.. Just Downsize the Old Homestead and Put the Tax free $ left over from it into your Retirement Savings and you’ll be Just Dandy..

    And only Let the Wife have 1 Credit card with a $200 spending limit per Charge and convience the Kids you’re always broke and can’t afford to pay for their College, that’s their job.. They’ll do better in HS to get Scholorships..


  50. craigr says:

    If you can access Vanguard then you can get a close representation of the portfolio. The LT bonds are not as good as buying directly, but if it’s all you’ve got for bond funds then it’s much better than what most other companies offer.

    Stocks: Vanguard Total Stock Market Ticker: VTSMX

    Bonds: Vanguard US Treasury LT Bonds: VUSTX

    Cash: Vanguard Treasury Money Market Fund

    Gold: Hold outside of the retirement fund if you are able. There are no really good mutual fund options that I’m aware of for this portion.

    If you wanted some small amount of international stock exposure you could consider adding a little Vanguard FTSE All Word Ex-US (VFWIX) or Vanguard Total International.

    Finally, you could just buy the commercially run Permanent Portfolio Fund (PRPFX) which follows a version of the portfolio outlined on this site that has similar returns, but a higher expense ratio than using Vanguard.

  51. Limoman says:

    VTSMX, VUSTX, MMKT TREAS. & INT’L STOCK SHOWS ABOUT A +2.14% PAST 10 YR APY.. But Only about a .45% expense

    While the PRPFX has currently about a +9.5% 10 yr apy but it is very expensive, like1.45% apy or cost you about 1% more to hire a fund mgr to do the job for you, just like in the private investment world.. so, apparently, you get what you pay for.
    an PRPFX per $10k invested 10 yrs ago was worth about +116% more ( $21,160) by the end of 08′ with a -8% loss in 08’…

    even VWINX has a better track record for the past 10 yrs..

    And I don’t mind paying an extra 1% in fees to make an extra 7% a yr myself…va being a Penny wise and Dollar Foolish an having the headache to manage those 4-5 funds as well.

  52. Limoman says:

    Very Impressive Chart … looks in favor of stocks and Gold..

    But, it Looks to me, just owning the LT bonds is best play.. 9.6% vs owing a 50/50 mix of the others and only making 8.9% or 9.3%, right? so why bother with the others? and can sleep alot better at nite..
    and Pimco and some other LT bonds have alittle better track history that I’ve seen, but not going back that far.. even a Income Fund like PTTDX shows a considerable advantage..
    that I can see..

    The VTSMX or TSM at 11.1% – 9.6% LT Bonds = 1.5% apy so using the rule of 72, it would take over 48 yrs to double and 24 yrs to make 50% more and quite a qild ride of uncertanty and that is assuming one would not have sold during those very bad loss yrs.. which most ddi BTW.. of course the Yr End #’s don’t show the many times inbetween , like 1987 loosing 27% over nite and the All the Black Fridays and many other Short Term Crashes and 99’s Tech bubble bursting & btwn 00- and by 02′ after loosing a total of over -43%, drove out some 45% of Investors out of the stock market and into Bonds and 08′ finished off another 35% and drove them out , probably for good and rightfully so..

    I know stock Firms are scrambling to put a spin on things to get people back into stocks for their livelyhood, but if we do have another run up and then things crash again by 2011 as they are predicting? That should be the Last nail in the Coffin for Wall Street and stocks…I would think….and there won’t BE any bail out $ for them , then…

    I Blame Deregulating CDS’s/Derivitives back in 00’… for that Crash and 08′ and the heavy Debt we have incurred now trying to stimulate our economy..and I doubt it’s going to work.. I’ll stay in bonds thank you.. even a 7% apy is more than I need…

  53. craigr says:


    If you are rebalancing the portfolio between stocks, bonds, gold and cash then the market upheavals have not dealt a significant blow to the permanent portfolio. In fact, this year you probably are doing quite well again as you likely would have sold down your LT bonds in January and bought stocks. Then you probably sold down gold this spring and summer and bought more stocks. With the sharp stock recovery you may now be in a position to rebalance out of them now into cash, etc.

    So the low stock returns are only a factor if you were 100% in stocks (which is why one should never be 100% in any investment). If you were widely diversified you did just fine.

  54. Rob says:

    Can someone update the table to reflect 2009 performance? Thanks.

  55. Jeff says:

    your Gold data is the average price of Gold for each year. How is average Gold price accurate when determining yearly portfolio performance ???
    Don’t we need the absolute gain of loss of Gold from year beginning to year end?

  56. craigr says:


    The data set that I linked to changed their chart and now only is showing one number. Previously they had it broken down by months if I recall and I used year-to-year numbers. I will have to dig around and update the link.

    I also need to update the table to reflect 2009 as I had forgotten to do so.

  57. Dominique says:

    Great blog and discussion.
    Question: It seems we are probably traveling into uncharted and dangerous waters. An example:

    I like the idea behind the Permanant Portfolio, but am concerned that we are now looking at 3 of the assets in the PP allocation tanking at the same time (stocks, US dollar and bonds) with no recovery for several years. That would at least destroy retirees as I don’t think gold and silver would cover it.

    Assuming the worst happens, are there any changes that could be made?

    Thanks for any thoughts.

  58. Rob Harrison says:


    I think that’s a valid concern, but I believe that the permanent portfolio would actually do fine in this instance and here’s why:

    Even thought the PP puts money 25% into each of 4 categories, I think that if 3 of the 4 categories had abysmal results that the 4 category (the only other type of investment basically) would explode to the upside. So, theoretically, if cash, bonds, and stocks all collapsed gold would become extraordinarily expensive as everyone tries to move into that ‘safe’ investment to try to maintain there wealth with something ‘real’. You actually might see a profit even though 75% of your investments became junk–you might. However, I think you would at least maintain your wealth or see only a slight decline (5-10%) when everyone else not holding gold in their portfolio would be wiped out. Make sense?

  59. Limoman says:

    Not to mention it’s holdings in Treauries..
    Just look at how they did in yrs 00-02′ and of course in 08’…

    But I think owing too much Gold hurt them during those times and not having more Treasuries..

    But what do I know.. I’m just along for the ride..

    I’d like to find a Similar fund that owns More Tresuries at the Right times ( Bear Mrkts only)

    I know fo 2, but they are not available to us Poor people, and requried $1 Million – $10 , million to get into them.

  60. Dominique says:

    I do see what you mean and I hope you are right, but I keep coming back to … if 75% crashes (as I think it will based on reality), the 25% may not do enough. Since we pretty much know what a mess we are in for (but not all the details or the WHEN), are there any changes that could be made to the PP? For example, include TIPS (US and Int’l) in the bond allocation. Use commodities for the equity portion. Have some foreign currencies (Canada, New Zealand, BRIC, Denmark)? Would it make sense to also own some silver?

    I’m trying to integrate what I see happening today (different and worse that what we have seen in the past) with the PP philosophy. I’m not sure if can be integrated since I have lost hope for 3 of the asset classes. That said, just owning gold goes against every grain of my being….I still believe in diversification. (cognative dissonance?)

    Thanks very much for your replies. I’m having a hard time finding people interested in discussing the mechanics of what to do with investments beyond ‘buy gold’ or “ignore the noise”.

  61. Limoman says:

    Well Dominique? Seems to me you are not one to be owing a Balanced Fund, let alone one like PRPFX.

    You choose to be more of a Hands on approach and if that has worked well for you after this apst decade? More Power to you..and just keep doing it your way..

    But, for the vast majority who are not Hands On investors and like to Hire someone to do the job for them with a Decent recrod? PRPFX is one of those Bal Funds I recommend to my Conservative and Moderate, but Passive Investors,along with BERIX & VWINX for Retirement.

    For Growth: FPACX, OAKBX and PRWCX and VWELX.

    and We also advocate one’s Age to be In bonds and even ore so and to be a Minimum of 50% at any age.. The Difference btwn a 70/30 and a 50/50 portfolio over the past 30 yrs has been minimal..and does not warrarnt a higher or more aggressive Portfolio than a 50/50 at the most.

    and for our Wealthy HNW ? We advocate a max of a 40/60 if not a 20/80..
    Our Bond Portfolio has outperformed and preserved Principal and beat Inflation and provided the ave of 2.5% grwoth for over 30 yrs and we see no reason to change now..

  62. Rob Harrison says:


    If you think that cash, bonds, and stocks are going in the crapper (and I am not saying they aren’t), AND you are against holding everything in precious metals (I agree, this is very risky), then other commodities would be your only choice. I guess there is Real Estate, but I don’t see than one doing well in the next few years. I think TIPS are NOT a good idea if you feel like bonds (treasuries) are going to go down the tubes. I wouldn’t want to own US treasuries in today’s “we may default” environment. I really think though, that gold/silver WILL do quite well if all else fails. But it is a hard thing to do…. to figure out WHAT to do in today’s environment.

  63. craigr says:

    Dominique, you should read the article on Marc’s blog about the portfolio in Iceland to see a true disaster scenario. No it did not protect an investor fully there. However they would have come out way ahead of a typical portfolio in that condition.

    It’s interesting to consider these extreme situations. But we also must remember that the future is not predictable and the past does not repeat. Even if we are right about a particular doomsday event, the market may not respond the way we think and we could still lose money. Prior to 2008 some analysts predicted the real estate crash. But if you followed the advice to avoid it you may very well have taken worse losses than doing nothing. So my advice is to just stick to the plan because you are far safer diversifying your money across assets even if one or more crash than concentrating your wealth. If you concentrate your wealth and are wrong you could take horrendous losses.

  64. Dominique says:

    Very interesting reading on Iceland.

    I’m not being clear so let me restate my question: Knowing what we do about the state of the economy, are there any changes you would make to the investments within the PP, not the asset allocation.

    For example, is holding 25% of equities in TSM (only 2.5% in foreign stock) enough diversification?

    BTW, currently the PP holds only 15% in cash.

  65. Alex says:

    Are you going to update this with 2009’s numbers?

  66. craigr says:

    This page will be updated. But for now please refer to this link to see reports from later years:

  67. reub says:

    Craig can you please update so as to include 2013 results? Thanks!

  68. name says:

    I don’t understand how cash can have double digit returns in many years, like the table claims. What am I misunderstanding?

  69. name says:

    Disregard last comment. I see that “cash” is actually short term treasury bonds.

  70. In 1981 there was very high inflation. The Fed was also raising interest rates sharply to counter it. So the interest rates on cash/short term bonds was very high. But inflation was also very high that year. So not really as impressive at it may seem.

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    […] Originally Posted by soulful I would like to see a comparison of CDs vs bonds/bond funds. Anyone know of such an analysis? I can give you 1-3 year treasuries vs long term bonds Permanent Portfolio Historical Returns | Crawling Road […]

  8. 1 December, 2009

    […] getting. That means gold could fall really hard and really fast. It also means you’ll be getting relatively boring returns while your friends are bragging about pulling down double digit years (but always forgetting to tell […]

  9. 29 December, 2009
  10. 5 January, 2010

    […] as well. These simple assets can make a remarkable difference in diversification, volatility, and not impact overall results to a meaningful degree. The Permanent Portfolio follows a simple formula which is to diversify first and foremost with […]

  11. 9 February, 2010

    […] this point we have about 40 years of data showing the strategy works just fine. A full thirty years of that data is actual empirical evidence. This is because this portfolio […]

  12. 10 February, 2010

    […] empirical evidence says that owning some gold in a portfolio is not the death sentence academic literature would […]

  13. 12 February, 2010

    […] have of making a mistake. Investors don’t need to follow complicated investment plans to get good results.  Indeed, I’ve found the simpler you keep investing the more likely you are to turn a good […]

  14. 25 February, 2010

    […] like with a large number of P2P loans. And for 7% returns? For that I’d just put it in the Permanent Portfolio allocation and go to do something less stressful with my […]

  15. 29 March, 2010

    […] Permanent Portfolio Historical Returns […]

  16. 16 April, 2010

    […] […]