Safe haven assets and investor behaviour under uncertainty


Financial crises and contagion have highlighted the need for safe haven assets. However, their existence, role and interactions are not well understood. We analyze the two most prominent yet fundamentally different safe haven assets, US government bonds and gold. Our econometric analysis explicitly models the dynamic interaction between these assets and the global stock market. While both assets appear to act as safe havens, we find that gold, in contrast to US government bonds, becomes increasingly sensitive to large negative shocks in the stock market. Gold therefore appears to be a stronger safe haven in extreme conditions despite the fact that it is more risky and less liquid than bonds. We offer a behavioral interpretation to explain our findings.


Baur, D.G. and McDermott, T.K.J. February 2012. Safe haven assets and investor behaviour under uncertainty. Under review.