One of the more popular posts on the sidebar has been "Cash is Trash." At the Ritholtz blog an interesting graphic about ten year asset class returns, that confirms this.
Missing from the list are long term treasuries, straight gold, straight silver, all of which would be near the top of the list. So the list makers likely have a bias towards equity oriented investments. AGG is the bond entry and it has a shorter duration than TLT, and hasn't done as well.
Cash has returned zero since the 2008 financial crisis (0.1%), and may stay there for a while yet. Those with money market accounts have seen those statements perhaps with 0.01% as the stated rate. Zero returns are bad, though many might say, better zero than risking another -30% down year in the stock market, or a similar move in bonds (some European bonds already saw that during their crisis). However, the other side is that those that moved to cash during the crisis have missed out on a doubling in the U.S. stock market.
Obviously if someone or some group were smart and lucky enough to be in one of the top performing asset classes every year, their returns would be tremendous. Just as obviously, no one does that, well maybe 0.05% but there are far more liars saying they did (usually after the fact, in hindsight) than real life people that actually did and have the records to prove it.
I know a lot of traders dislike hearing it, especially novice traders, but steady state allocations such as PERM (25/25/25/25 gold, stocks, bonds, cash) or a 50/50 stock and bond allocation do okay in most markets and over the long term will out perform most professional money managers. Yes, every trader thinks they will be in the top group, the outperforming group. In reality, 80% of active managers lag the indexes over the long term. These are the smartest of the smart.