A permanent portfolio is a portfolio construction theory devised by free-market investment analyst Harry Browne in the 1980s. Browne constructed what he called the permanent portfolio, which he believed would be a safe and profitable portfolio in any economic climate. Using a variation of efficient market indexing, Browne stated that a portfolio equally split into growth stocks, precious metals, government bonds and Treasury-bills and rebalanced annually would be an ideal investment mixture for investors seeking safety and growth.

Harry Browne argued that the portfolio mix would be profitable in all types of economic situations: growth stocks would prosper in expansionary markets, precious metals in inflationary markets, bonds in recessions and T-bills in depressions. Acting on his beliefs, Browne eventually created what was called the Permanent Portfolio Fund, with an asset mix similar to his theoretical portfolio in 1982: 35% government securities, 20% gold bullion, 15% aggressive growth stocks, 15% real estate and natural resource stocks, 10% Swiss franc bonds and 5% silver bullion. Over a 25-year period, the fund averaged an annual return of 6.38%, only losing money three times. It outperformed the S&P 500 in the years immediately following the dotcom bust.

Although the fund was considered a successful investment for providing investors security with moderate growth, during the 1990s, the Permanent Portfolio Fund badly underperformed compared to the stock market. During that period, it was not uncommon for stocks the appreciate 20-30% annually, while the permanent portfolio rose just over 1% each year. Today, many analysts agree that Browne's permanent portfolio relied too heavily on metals and T-bills and underestimated the growth potential of equities and bonds. (To learn more, read Major Blunders In Portfolio Construction.)

  1. What licenses does a hedge fund manager need to have?

    A hedge fund manager does not necessarily need any specific license to operate a fund, but depending on the type of investments ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can mutual funds invest in hedge funds?

    Mutual funds are legally allowed to invest in hedge funds. However, hedge funds and mutual funds have striking differences ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the risks of annuities in a recession?

    Annuities come in several forms, the two most common being fixed annuities and variable annuities. During a recession, variable ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. When are mutual funds considered a bad investment?

    Mutual funds are considered a bad investment when investors consider certain negative factors to be important, such as high ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What fees do financial advisors charge?

    Financial advisors who operate as fee-only planners charge a percentage, usually 1 to 2%, of a client's net assets. For a ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What does a high turnover ratio signify for an investment fund?

    If an investment fund has a high turnover ratio, it indicates it replaces most or all of its holdings over a one-year period. ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 3 Muni California Mutual Funds

    Discover analyses of the top three California municipal bond mutual funds, and learn about their characteristics, historical performance and suitability.
  2. Investing News

    Glencore Shares Surge in Hong Kong

    Shares of Glencore International, a leading multinational commodities and mining company, jumped by around 15% on London Stock Exchange, after the shares had gained about 71% earlier on the Hong ...
  3. Investing Basics

    What Does In Specie Mean?

    In specie describes the distribution of an asset in its physical form instead of cash.
  4. Economics

    Calculating Cross Elasticity of Demand

    Cross elasticity of demand measures the quantity demanded of one good in response to a change in price of another.
  5. Professionals

    How to Sell Mutual Funds to Your Clients

    Learn about the various talking points you should cover when discussing mutual funds with clients and how explaining their benefits can help you close the sale.
  6. Investing

    Have Commodities Bottomed?

    Commodity prices have been heading lower for more than four years, being the worst performing asset class of 2015 with more losses in cyclical commodities.
  7. Professionals

    Fund and ETF Strategies for Volatile Markets

    Looking for short-term fixes in reaction to market volatility? Here are a few strategies — and their downsides.
  8. Investing

    How Diversifying Can Help You Manage Market Mayhem

    The recent market volatility, while not unexpected, has certainly been hard for any investor to digest.
  9. Fundamental Analysis

    Emerging Markets: Analyzing Colombia's GDP

    With a backdrop of armed rebels and drug cartels, the journey for the Colombian economy has been anything but easy.
  10. Investing

    How to Win More by Losing Less in Today’s Markets

    The further you fall, the harder it is to climb back up. It’s a universal truth that is painfully apparent in the investing world.
  1. Put-Call Parity

    A principle that defines the relationship between the price of ...
  2. Equity Risk Premium

    The excess return that investing in the stock market provides ...
  3. Alpha

    Alpha is used in finance to represent two things: 1. a measure ...
  4. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based ...
  5. Linear Relationship

    A statistical term used to describe the directly proportional ...
  6. Cost Accounting

    A type of accounting process that aims to capture a company's ...

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  2. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  3. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
  4. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a firm’s total revenue and total cost is equal to zero.
  5. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
  6. Cost Of Funds

    The interest rate paid by financial institutions for the funds that they deploy in their business. The cost of funds is one ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!