We examined the behavior of US university endowments since 1945: their big strategic moves into equities and alternatives; how they invest at the time of crises; and the extent to which they exploit their long-horizon advantage.
University endowments invest for future generations, so their strategy should reflect their long horizon. We researched whether they really do behave like long-term investors. We examined the behavior of US endowments since 1945 and drew comparisons with earlier periods. Using a long-run dataset on 12 major universities, we examined their preferences for risky assets and documented their big strategic moves into equities and, later, into alternatives. We then analysed how they invest at the time of crises and the extent to which they exploit their long-horizon advantage. We found that, on average, endowments invested countercyclically at crisis times, particularly by increasing their allocations to risky assets after a crisis.