Over the past 25 years, Yale dramatically reduced the Endowment's dependence on domestic marketable securities by reallocating assets to nontraditional asset classes. In 1990, over seven-tenths of the Endowment was committed to U.S. stocks, bonds, and cash. Today, domestic marketable securities account for approximately one-tenth of the portfolio, while foreign equity, private equity, absolute return strategies, and real assets represent nearly nine-tenths of the Endowment.

The heavy allocation to non-traditional asset classes stems from their return potential and diversifying power. Today's actual and target portfolios have significantly higher expected returns and lower volatility than the 1990 portfolio. Alternative assets, by their very nature, tend to be less efficiently priced than traditional marketable securities, providing an opportunity to exploit market inefficiencies through active management. The Endowment's long time horizon is well suited to exploiting illiquid, less efficient markets such as venture capital, leveraged buyouts, oil and gas, timber, and real estate.