The Putnam Global Risk Appetite (RA) Index is a proprietary quantitative model that aims to measure investors’ willingness to invest in risky assets, including equities, commodities, high-yield bonds, and other spread sectors. With a composite view of risk-appetite signals across a broad mix of asset types, Putnam’s RA Index provides a framework for discussing investor preferences and can signal trend changes in broad market sentiment.

Risk appetite ebbs but stays positive


There was more subdued risk sentiment in January across asset markets.


  • Fixed-income assets, especially those with higher betas compared with U.S. Treasuries, had negative returns.
  • Assets with growth potential and those marginally insulated from higher interest rates generated small returns.
  • The S&P 500 Index fell, and some other equity classes followed suit.
  • Small-cap stocks continued to outperform.
  • The NASDAQ Composite Index and emerging-market equities, led by China and tech-heavy countries, outperformed.
  • The U.S. dollar gained against most currencies amid marginally less dovish comments from the Federal Reserve.


This 10-year illustration captures the cyclicality of investors' appetite for risk.

risk key

Sept–Nov '11

Eruption and subsequent clearing of concerns over EU sovereign debt crisis, U.S. debt ceiling, and fear of China hard landing drive major risk sell-off and rally.

March '16–Jan '18

Risk assets rally amid improving commodity prices, perceived stability in China's macro data, and expectations for gradualist Fed policy.

March '20–present

The coronavirus pandemic has created large swings in global risk appetite.

Source: Putnam. Data as January 31, 2021. To create the Global Risk Appetite Index, we weigh the monthly relative returns of 30 different asset classes over 3-month T-bills relative to the trailing 2-year volatility of each asset class. The higher the relative return and the lower the volatility, the greater the risk appetite; conversely, the lower the relative return and the higher the volatility, the stronger the risk aversion.