Charles J. Stevens, Principal, evergreen financial, LLC
One of the cardinal rules of investing is the return of your principal is more important than the return on your principal. While I share your longer term concerns about the stock and bond markets, near term I think the concerns in the media currently are a little over blown. Another old cliche applicable here is that bull markets climb a wall of worry, and we certainly know that worries currently abound.
If you are not all ready thoroughly versed in Exchange Traded Funds (ETF's), you should become so. Not only do ETF's give you better control over your tax liabilities for gains, they can help you develop agility in tough market times. And, rather than having to be "right" about a stock, you can concentrate more on the overall direction of the stock, bond and futures markets with your investments. For example, if you are certain that the next move in interest rates will be up, there are several ETF's that keep very short maturities with their investments and earn slightly more than money markets. There are also ETF's structured to take advantage of rising interest rates. In the equity arenas, there are ETF's structured for almost any market you can imagine on both the long and the short side of the market. I point out the short side ETF's for information only: they are not in my opinion, for the average retail investor due to their high leverage. If you are comfortable with investing in managed futures, those investments usually thrive on uncertain market conditions. If you aren't familiar with this type of investing, you can find out more from on of the oldest practitioners in the industry at https://www.campbell.com/disclaimer.aspx.
An additional educational source you might find of interest is the book Point and Figure Charting by Thomas Dorsey. The discipline of Point and Figure is labor intensive, However, by working with a skilled practitioner of the art, a great number of your investing anxieties may be reduced.
I hope I've successfully challenged some of your concerns.
Francisco Ramirez, President, Insuringmyself.com LLC
Short answer - Equity Indexed Annuity. Yes, you won't realize the maximum upside market potential but you also won't be hit on down moves.
buyer's guide: https://www.insuringmyself.com/files/NAIC-Buyers-Guide-to-Fixed-Deferred-Annuities.pdf
Larry McClanahan, Financial Advisor
You're wise to be concerned about distorted "markets" and elevated valuations in almost all asset classes. Nobody has a crystal ball, of course, but I can't see how this will possibly end well.
Consider these three strategies:
1) Temporarily maintain a higher-than-typical weighting in cash and equivalents
2) "Rent" the market until valuations get back down to more reasonable levels for buy-and-hold
3) Buy long-dated Put options to offset a slide in your portfolio
Though it's painful to sit in cash and hardly earn enough interest to buy a candy bar, a few years out we might look back and see that cash-heavy investors were the smartest folks in the room. You'll have the "dry powder" to swoop-in and buy good assets at much better prices after the inevitable downturn. Of course, it's not possible to precisely and consistently time these things...but you don't have to be precise in order to do well. Just avoid catastrophic losses and capture a reasonable amount of upside when appropriate. And it doesn't have to be "all or nothing" (100% invested or 100% cash)...you might choose to be partially invested and partially in cash.
Another strategy is to "rent" the market. In other words, you employ trading strategies with no intent to buy-and-hold until valuations get back down to reasonable levels. You'd invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that have market exposure, but put stop-loss sell orders in place that automatically sell the funds if they drop a certain percentage. If the markets irrationally continue higher, you move up the price at which the stop-loss would trigger. Kind of like stair steps. No guarantees, of course. And you can easily get stopped-out only to then watch the markets march higher once again (which can be quite frustrating).
Another strategy is to be invested but buy long-dated Put options that will increase in value if the markets tank before the options expire. This can sometimes be thought of as "portfolio insurance" where you allocate a small sliver of your portfolio to these. If structured properly, the increase in value of the Puts can somewhat offset the decline in value of your market investments. And of course, if markets continue higher your Puts will expire worthless.
One of the answers suggested an indexed annuity. That MAY be appropriate for folks who want to turn everything over to an insurance company and hold the annuity for a long time. They typically come with long surrender charge periods, caps on upward stock market returns, and only certain times of year that you can change your percentage allocations between interest-bearing and market exposure. So if the markets tank and you want to then heavily buy-in at better prices, you're typically not going to have the liquidity or flexibility to do so with an indexed annuity.
I currently use all three of these strategies (not indexed annuities) in managing client accounts.
Did we answer your question?