Originally Posted by MichaelB
This is the best option. It's a leveraged bet with a fixed interest rate and a sizable chunk of the asset price increase is tax exempt.
The problem with equities, in general, is that when inflation and interest rates increase above expectations, equity prices decline. I would be especially cautious about EM equity valuations, as policy mechanisms in developing countries are not as effective and demand is much more sensitive to changes in price.
Timber is an excellent inflation hedge. Energy infrastructure via MLPs should be as well.
I would consider a kind of Permanent Portfolio approach, with a significant component of S&P Index or better Total Stock Index with World (50%), then commodities/materials and Emerging/Foreign bonds, if you are afraid of US bonds.
Diversifying but incorporating a bias towards inflation hedge, if that is your fear, is the safest. You're in your 20s, dude.
If I had invested solely on my concerns when I was your age, I would be screwed.
Luckily, I didn't have much to invest until I earned my grad degree and was close to 30. But investing young covers a multitude of mistakes, particularly if you're willing to let your "mistakes" run.
Edit: actually what served me well was an allocation percentage, with rebalancing, although I allowed myself some weasel room on relative value on the percentages.
So if you keep to rebalancing a somewhat uncorrelated portfolio with a bias towards some inflation assets (energy, metals, materials, TIPS or inflation-adjusted world), I think you will do very well over a 30 year period. I rebalanced yearly, intervening once in a while if an allocation got completely out of whack, but very rarely until I was in my 40's.
What worked for me may not work for you. Thinking of investment timeline in individual areas as 3-7 years did work, however. (So if foreign midcap went down 10% it might seem a good deal, if you considered you might be selling gains 7 years down the line after the cheap values began to "pay off.") Worked for me, but perhaps not for you.
I had a simple portfolio at first, then added non-correlated areas as the portfolio grew. That also might not work for you.
Figuring out what does work for you, then sticking to it, and innovating on the edges, probably does work. Particularly when the market goes down big time, as it will. What will you stick to?