“The Best Place to Be” (Third of a Series)

A dictionary of Latin words, called the “Thesaurus Linguae Latinae,” was begun in 1893 by a team of German researchers. So far their successors have reached the letter R. With extraordinary luck and effort, “zythum” (an Egyptian beverage) will be reached circa 2050.

For a so-called “dead language,” that seems like a lot of work for little gain. But turns out over 200,000 K-12 students are studying Latin in the U.S., not far behind the number of Mandarin learners. And about half of English words are derived from Latin. “Covenant” for example, comes from the Latin meaning “fantasy.” OK, maybe not.

Still, this usefulness of things ancient brings to mind how private credit has become more relevant than ever as we head into 2020. Derived from commercial lending, which traces its roots back to Greece four millennia ago, private credit took on new meaning post the Great Recession.

These non-traded, non-public, non-correlated secured assets behaved as their managers said they would. When asset prices around the world collapsed at the end of 2008, middle market loan values held relatively firm. Both defaults and losses were better than for the larger, liquid names because their holders were patient.