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A cash investment is an investment in money-market securities, which is short-term – below 12 months – highly-liquid, usually low-risk and thus low-return. Examples of money-market securities include negotiable Certificates of Deposits (CDs), banker’s acceptances, US Treasury Bills, commercial paper, municipal notes, federal funds and repurchase agreements (Repos)
Fixed income investments are made in debt instruments issued by a government body – government bonds – or by a company – corporate bonds – to lenders. The purchaser of a bond receives regular interest payments for a certain period of time, which constitute the income return. Principal is returned at maturity unless the lender defaults.
Real estate investment is made in property in buildings and land. Real estate investment can generate income in the form of rent and/or capital gain/loss in the form of price appreciation/depreciation.
A commodity is a physical substance such as grains, crude oil, metals. Commodity prices fluctuate on the basis of supply-demand imbalances, which in turn are dependent on a multitude of factors: weather conditions, economic growth, geopolitical risk, inflation expectations and others. Such variables are difficult to forecast and can affect prices in an unpredictable or unexpected way, generating high volatility in commodity prices.
Equity represents ownership in a company, which gives the right to participate fully in its economic risk and potential profits. Equities provide returns in the form of capital gain/loss, as well as income via dividends. Equity investments are sensitive to the economic cycle and to company-specific factors. Historically, they have delivered higher returns in the long term, but the returns are more volatile than fixed income.
Alternative investments are ‘hedge funds’ and other fund investments, which are not subject to the same regulatory requirements or oversight as traditional investment schemes, such as mutual funds. A Hedge Fund is an aggressively managed portfolio of investments that uses advanced investment strategies and other speculative investment practices such as leveraged, long, short and derivative positions in both domestic and international markets. Hedge Funds are more illiquid than traditional asset classes; they often have lower volatility than equities and can offer significant diversification benefits through their specific investment strategies, with the goal of generating high returns.
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