BlackRock calls the 60/40 portfolio model outdated.Photo: Lucia Buricelli for The Wall Street Journal

The best-known names in asset management and investment banking are taking opposite sides in the debate over the classic way of building a portfolio—60% stocks and 40% bonds—after a disastrous performance for the 60/40 model last year.

BlackRock says the losses—the worst in nominal terms for a 60/40 portfolio since the financial crisis of 2008-9 and the worst in real terms in a calendar year since the Great Depression—show that the structure is outdated. Goldman demurs, arguing that the odd big loss is inevitable in any strategy and that 60/40 remains a valid basic approach. Strategists and fund managers at other large money managers and banks have been piling in on both sides.


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