NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Wall Street Journal recently published an article that explored the possibility of constructing an investment portfolio using only three funds: one broad-based domestic equity fund; one broad-based foreign-equity fund; and one broad-based domestic fixed-income fund. Once the funds have been purchased, the only work to do is to rebalance as needed.
A portfolio of just three funds sounds very easy to manage but not as easy as a portfolio of just one fund, and there are ETFs that own all the asset classes.
These can be a solution for investors who no longer want to make decisions about asset allocation but realize they need a positive return on their assets to keep up with or be slightly ahead of inflation.
This is where so-called asset allocation funds can play a role. These funds own both equities and fixed income. There are several of them in the market, including the SPDR SSgA Global Allocation Fund (GAL).(AGG). It is worth noting that during last month's Bernanke induced panic, GAL fell 7% -- more than the declines for the S&P 500 and AGG. This was because of GAL's foreign exposure. (GWL), which makes up 19% of GAL, fell more than 10% last month but has since recovered more than half of that drop. One potential source of ongoing performance drag could be the roughly 9% allocation to Japanese equities via the 21% weighting to Japan in GWL, and GAL's 5% weighting in the SPDR Russell Nomura Prime Japan Fund (JPP). Japan obviously has many problems including a debt to GDP load greater than 200% and a relatively old population averaging 44 years not mention a stock market that is still down more than 60% from the all-time high set in 1989.