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  • Guided Allocation

    Deterioration Confirmed

    David Schassler, Portfolio Manager
    October 18, 2019

    The VanEck Vectors® Real Asset Allocation ETF (RAAX®) uses a data-driven, rules-based process that leverages over 50 indicators (technical, macroeconomic and fundamental, commodity price, and sentiment) to allocate across 12 individual real asset segments in five broad real asset sectors. These objective indicators identify the segments with positive expected returns. Then, using correlation and volatility, an optimization process determines the weight to these segments with the goal of creating a portfolio with maximum diversification while reducing risk. The expanded PDF version of this commentary can be downloaded here.


    The VanEck Vectors Real Asset Allocation ETF (“RAAX”) returned 0.04% in September. During the same period, its blended benchmark returned 1.83% and the Bloomberg Commodity Index returned 1.17%. RAAX was fully allocated and well diversified across gold, natural resource equities, REITs, diversified commodity futures, global infrastructure and MLPs. RAAX’s top performing positions were in steel equities and global metals and mining equities, up 4.05% and 4.07%, respectively. Unfortunately, positive performance was largely offset by the pullback in gold bullion and gold mining equities. RAAX’s investment in gold bullion lost 3.28% and its investment in gold equities declined 10.55%.

    RAAX moved from fully to partially invested in October. Its largest allocations now include a 66% allocation to U.S. Treasury bills and a 22% allocation to gold bullion. Technical readings in real asset prices are a big warning sign that there is trouble lurking in the markets. The deterioration was also confirmed by our investor sentiment and economic composites. It was this additional confirmation that prompted us to seek temporary shelter in Treasuries and gold investments.

    Average Annual Total Returns (%) as of September 30, 2019
      1 Mo YTD 1 Year Life
    RAAX (NAV) 0.04 1.87 0.02 0.58
    RAAX (Share Price) 0.08 1.85 0.01 0.65
    Blended Real Asset Index* 1.83 10.12 -0.82 1.01
    Average Annual Total Returns (%) as of June 30, 2019
      1 Mo YTD 1 Year Life
    RAAX (NAV) 5.80 2.94 -0.10 1.56
    RAAX (Share Price) 5.84 2.94 -0.41 1.66
    Blended Real Asset Index* 5.47 11.69 0.49 2.40

    The table presents past performance which is no guarantee of future results and which may be lower or higher than current performance. Returns reflect temporary contractual fee waivers and/or expense reimbursements. Had the ETF incurred all expenses and fees, investment returns would have been reduced. Investment returns and ETF share values will fluctuate so that investors’ shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. ETF returns assume that distributions have been reinvested in the Fund at “Net Asset Value” (NAV). NAV is determined at the close of each business day, and represents the dollar value of one share of the fund; it is calculated by taking the total assets of the fund, subtracting total liabilities, and dividing by the total number of shares outstanding. The NAV is not necessarily the same as the ETF’s intraday trading value. VanEck Vectors ETF investors should not expect to buy or sell shares at NAV.

    Returns less than a year are not annualized.

    Expenses: Gross 1.04%; Net 0.64%. Expenses are capped contractually at 0.55% through February 1, 2020. Expenses are based on estimated amounts for the current fiscal year. Cap exclude certain expenses, such as interest, acquired fund fees and expenses, and trading expenses.

    A Deeper Dive

    Below is the overall real asset economic composite. A score of 0 represents the lowest risk level and a score of 100 represents the highest risk level. A score of 60 or higher will result in our most defensive posture. After two consecutive months with Stable market conditions, elevated risk leads to a Weak environment.

    Overall Risk Score


    The risk score can be decomposed into key factors that drive real asset prices. These include price trends, economic activity, commodity prices, realized volatility and investor sentiment.

    Price Trend Risk Score


    Price trends remained bearish. The assets with negative trends were largely in the natural resource equity and commodity segments of the portfolio.

    Economic Risk Score


    This chart shows that there was an uptick in economic risk. However, in aggregate, economic activity remained supportive of real asset prices.

    Price Volatility Risk Score


    It is true that volatility has ticked up lately, but it is not yet at extreme levels. The extremes are often associated with rapid price declines, and we do not have those yet.

    Investor Sentiment Risk Score


    Investor sentiment risk, within commodities, while not at an extreme, has ticked up.

    Commodity Price Risk Score


    Commodity price trends, in aggregate, remain bearish. Most of the commodities that we track had negative trending prices.

    RAAX transitioned to its current defensive posture due to an overall increase in the level of systemic risk affecting the real asset sectors. Weak price trends and commodity trends are a clear indication from the market that something is amiss. The recent uptick in investor sentiment and economic risk acted to confirm the bearish price action and send RAAX towards the safety of U.S. Treasuries and gold. RAAX will continue to monitor the risk in the market, through the lens of its quantitative risk signals, and adjust its exposures as necessary.

    Real Asset Class Allocations

      Oct-19 Sep-19 Change from Previous Month
    Cash 66.7% 0.1% 66.6% Increase
    Gold Bullion 22.3% 23.2% -0.9% Decrease
    Global Infastructure 2.8% 5.8% -3.0% Decrease
    Unconventional Oil & Gas Equities 0.7% 4.3% -3.6% Decrease
    Global Metals & Mining Equities 0.7% 4.4% -3.7% Decrease
    MLPs 0.7% 4.6% -3.9% Decrease
    Steel Equities 0.7% 4.7% -4.0% Decrease
    Agribusiness Equities 0.7% 4.8% -4.1% Decrease
    Oil Service Equities 0.7% 4.8% -4.1% Decrease
    Coal Equities 0.0% 4.4% -4.4% Decrease
    Gold Equities 0.7% 5.4% -4.7% Decrease
    Diversified Commodities 1.0% 12.9% -11.9% Decrease
    REITs 2.4% 20.5% -18.1% Decrease


    Please note that the information herein represents the opinion of the author, but not necessarily those of VanEck, and these opinions may change at any time and from time to time. Non-VanEck proprietary information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. Not intended to be a forecast of future events, a guarantee of future results or investment advice. Historical performance is not indicative of future results. Current data may differ from data quoted. Any graphs shown herein are for illustrative purposes only. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission of VanEck.

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    The Blended Real Assets Index consists of an equally weighted blend of the returns of Bloomberg Commodity Index, S&P Real Assets Equity Index, and VanEck® Natural Resources Index. Equal weightings are reset monthly. The S&P Real Assets Equity Index measures the performance of equity real return strategies that invest in listed global property, infrastructure, natural resources, and timber and forestry companies. The VanEck Natural Resources Index is a rules-based index intended to give investors a means of tracking the overall performance of a global universe of listed companies engaged in the production and distribution of commodities and commodity-related products and services. Sector weights are set annually based on estimates of global natural resources consumption, and stock weights within sectors are based on market capitalization, float-adjusted and modified to conform to various asset diversification requirements. The S&P 500® Index (S&P 500) consists of 500 widely held common stocks, covering four broad sectors (industrials, utilities, financial and transportation).

    The S&P Real Assets Equity Index is a product of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and/or its affiliates and has been licensed for use by Van Eck Associates Corporation. Copyright © 2019 S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a division of S&P Global, Inc., and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Redistribution or reproduction in whole or in part are prohibited without written permission of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC. For more information on any of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC’s indices please visit S&P® is a registered trademark of S&P Global and Dow Jones® is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. Neither S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC, their affiliates nor their third party licensors make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the ability of any index to accurately represent the asset class or market sector that it purports to represent and neither S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC, their affiliates nor their third party licensors shall have any liability for any errors, omissions, or interruptions of any index or the data included therein.

    The Solactive MLP & Energy Infrastructure Index tracks the performance of MLPs and energy infrastructure corporations. The MVIS U.S. Listed Oil Services 25 Index is intended to track the overall performance of U.S.-listed companies involved in oil services to the upstream oil sector, which include oil equipment, oil services, or oil drilling. The Dow Jones Equity All REIT Index, designed to measure all publicly traded real estate investment trusts in the Dow Jones U.S. stock universe classified as equity REITs according to the S&P Dow Jones Indices REIT Industry Classification Hierarchy. The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index is a modified market capitalization- weighted index composed of publicly traded companies involved primarily in the mining for gold. The Index is calculated and maintained by the New York Stock Exchange. The S&P® North American Natural Resources Sector Index: a modified capitalization-weighted index which includes companies involved in the following categories: extractive industries, energy companies, owners and operators of timber tracts, forestry services, producers of pulp and paper, and owners of plantations. The S&P® GSCI Total Return Index: is a world production-weighted commodity index comprised of liquid, exchange-traded futures contracts and is often used as a benchmark for world commodity prices.

    Any indices listed are unmanaged indices and include the reinvestment of all dividends, but do not reflect the payment of transaction costs, advisory fees or expenses that are associated with an investment in the Fund. Certain indices may take into account withholding taxes. An index’s performance is not illustrative of the Fund’s performance. Indices are not securities in which investments can be made.

    An investment in the Fund may be subject to risks which include, among others, in fund of funds risk which may subject the Fund to investing in commodities, gold, natural resources companies, MLPs, real estate sector, infrastructure, equities securities, small- and medium-capitalization companies, foreign securities, emerging market issuers, foreign currency, credit, high yield securities, interest rate, call and concentration risks, all of which may adversely affect the Fund. The Fund may also be subject to affiliated fund, U.S. Treasury Bills, subsidiary investment, commodity regulatory (with respect to investments in the Subsidiary), tax (with respect to investments in the Subsidiary), liquidity, gap, cash transactions, high portfolio turnover, model and data, management, operational, authorized participant concentration, no guarantee of active trading market, trading issues, market, fund shares trading, premium/discount and liquidity of fund shares, non-diversified and ETPs risks. Foreign investments are subject to risks, which include changes in economic and political conditions, foreign currency fluctuations, changes in foreign regulations, and changes in currency exchange rates which may negatively impact the Fund’s returns. Small- and medium-capitalization companies may be subject to elevated risks.

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