Man pushing snail up slowly ascending line on graph

When the economy is slowing, look for certain mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that perform best during a recession. Consider investing in things such as health, utilities, and consumer staples— things people will be looking for when the economy is in decline. Here are five of the best in no particular order.

Healthcare Select Sector SPDR (XLV)

Even in the hardest of times, people still need to be seen by doctors and have their prescriptions refilled. Health stocks remain steady and are insulated from a declining economy. “XLV is an ETF that holds high-quality large-cap US stocks like United Health Group (UNH).” Expenses for XLV are 0.13 percent (or $13 for every $10,000 invested).

Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU)

For the most part, consumers still pay for their utilities during economic downfall. Large US energy firms like Duke Energy (DUK) and NextEra Energy (NEE) are XLU holdings spots. XLU ETF expenses are 0.13 percent. If a person does have extra cash on hand during a crash, they might also invest in gold.

SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)

When the economy slows, problems with the capital markets arise. Most often investors move to physical assets and investments so they can better track their prices. Precious metals like gold do well in this type of economy. GLD does not hold physical gold, only tracks the price of gold bullion and expenses for GLD are 0.13 percent.

Consumer Select Sector SPDR (XLP)

Consumer non-discretionary stocks invest in products used for everyday life such as food, beverages, and toiletries. These are the products sold no matter what cycle the economy is in. XLP is an ETF that provides broad exposure to these consumer non-discretionary stocks. Good examples would be Proctor & Gamble (PG) and Coca-Cola (KO). Expenses for XLP are 0.13 percent.

Vanguard Ultra-Short Term Bond (VUBFX)

VUBFX is a mutual fund that invests money market instruments and bonds short term, usually anywhere from zero to three years. This is beneficial during a slow economic time because while interest rates are rising, these short-term bonds funds are seeing negative price movement. Expenses for VUBFX are 0.20 percent.