Editor’s note: Today, in place of our usual market commentary, we're sharing an important essay with you.

In it, Dispatch editor Justin Spittler explains a powerful but overlooked investing strategy. Used properly, this simple strategy will allow you to make money in stocks during both bear markets and bull markets…

It’s never been more important to “crash proof” your portfolio…

If you've been reading the Dispatch, you know we face many serious issues today.

After the 2007–2009 financial crisis, the U.S. government launched all sorts of extreme measures. It borrowed trillions of dollars…created trillions more out of thin air…and cut rates to effectively zero.

These policies were supposed to stimulate the economy…but instead they've set the stage for a major financial disaster. Here are just some of the signs:

➢ U.S. stocks are likely topping out. The S&P 500 hasn’t set a new high in more than a year.

➢ Companies are struggling to make money. Corporate profits have fallen four straight quarters.

➢ Jobs have become scarce. U.S. companies are hiring at the slowest pace in six years.

And as ugly as things are right now, Casey Research founder Doug Casey says they’re only going to get worse:

Right now, we are exiting the eye of the giant financial hurricane that we entered in 2007, and we’re going into its trailing edge. It’s going to be much more severe, different, and longer lasting than what we saw in 2008 and 2009…

This will lead us to an economic disaster that will in many ways dwarf the Great Depression of 1929–1946. Paper currencies will fall apart, as they have many times throughout history.

• E.B. Tucker, editor of The Casey Report, is worried about the economy and stock market too…

He’s been bearish on the stock market for almost a year. You may remember that he titled the September issue of The Casey Report “R.I.P. 2009-2015 Bull Market.”

With a call like that, you might think E.B. is avoiding stocks completely. But he actually has several stocks marked as “buys” in The Casey Report portfolio right now.

However, at the same time, E.B. is also shorting (betting against) two of America’s most fragile companies.

In other words, E.B. is taking a “market neutral” approach.

Today, you'll see why this approach will help you profit no matter if stocks are going up, down, or sideways.

It’s an incredibly simple strategy. Anyone can use it to boost returns and shield their portfolio from losses.

• A market neutral portfolio doesn’t depend on stocks rising or falling…

It’s unbiased toward high or lower prices.

You may be thinking, “My portfolio is already diversified. Why would I need a market neutral portfolio?”

The truth is that many people’s “diversified” portfolios don’t actually protect them from losses.

Let’s say your portfolio includes major retailers, oil companies, and big banks. Your money is spread across different sectors. Many financial advisors will tell you that this is a safe way to own stocks.

But in reality, this “long only” portfolio would rack up big losses if stocks crash like they did in 2000 or 2008.

• A market neutral portfolio is a better way to reduce risk…

That’s because it has both “long” and “short” stocks. A long position simply means you own a stock, so you make money when the stock rises. A short position makes money when a stock falls.

If your long positions are the same size as your short positions, your portfolio is “market neutral.” This means movement in the stock market won’t make or lose you money. If the stock market goes up, your long position makes money while your short position loses money. If the stock market goes down, your short position makes money while your long position loses money.

Our favorite way to build a market neutral portfolio is to buy stocks in strong industries and short stocks in weak industries.

Let’s look at an example.

Say you buy $10,000 worth of Lockheed Martin (LMT)—a bet on more foreign wars and adventures—and sell short $10,000 worth of Bank of America (BAC)—a bet on financial chaos. If Lockheed Martin climbs 10% and Bank of America falls 10%, you make $2,000. (That’s 10%, or $1,000, on each $10,000 position.)

If Lockheed Martin climbs 10% and Bank of America also climbs 5%, you make $500. (That’s a $1,000 gain on Lockheed Martin and a $500 loss on the Bank of America short position.)

And, if Lockheed Martin drops 10%, but Bank of America also drops 15%, you also make $500. (That’s a $1,000 loss on Lockheed Martin and a $1,500 gain on Bank of America.)

The only way you lose on this market neutral trade (often called a “pairs trade”) is if Bank of America outperforms Lockheed Martin.

• The key is to pick the right longs and shorts…

We look to buy stocks that are cheap, overlooked, and on the rise.

On the other hand, we look to short expensive stocks and companies that could have trouble making money in an economic downturn.

• E.B.’s shorting one of America’s most vulnerable companies…

He placed a bet against a major U.S. airline.

Airline stocks have been booming for the past seven years. In fact, the stock E.B.’s shorting has soared an incredible 1,600% since March 2009. It’s beaten the S&P 500 eight-to-one.

But E.B. says the “good times are ending” for the industry. In short, he thinks the slowing economy will hammer major U.S. airlines. Remember, people travel less when the economy slows.

E.B.’s airline short has returned 12% since February. But he says it could plunge 50% or more before it bottoms out.

Finding the right companies to short is only half the battle. E.B.'s also been profiting on companies that make money no matter what's happening with the economy…

• E.B. is long on companies that “feed the masses”…

During a financial crisis, folks take fewer vacations. They spend less money at the mall. They buy fewer new cars. But they don’t stop eating.

That’s why E.B.’s investing in companies that put food on the table.

One of E.B.’s “feed the masses” companies is Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM). It produces everything from processed wheat to cornmeal used in tortillas. In other words, it makes food the average American eats every day.

That allows the company to make money in any environment.

This stock has jumped 41% since E.B. recommended it in January.

E.B. also recommended a world-class agricultural product company this year. The company sells potash and magnesium, ingredients in fertilizers that help farmers feed the masses. It also sells one of America’s most iconic food products. There’s a good chance this product is sitting in your pantry right now.

It’s up 18% since E.B. recommended it in January.

• Those are just a few of the big gains Casey Report readers have enjoyed this year…

Another one of E.B.’s stocks is up 48% since March. One is up 46% since April. A third has jumped 40% since April.

E.B. also closed out another short this year for 13% gain in March.

For comparison, the S&P 500 is up less than 4% this year.

• And E.B.'s made these gains during a rollercoaster ride of a year…

According to The Wall Street Journal, last quarter was the most volatile start to a year for the stock market since 2009. Back then, the U.S. was in its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

If we’re headed into a financial crisis like we expect, stocks will only become more erratic. That’s why it’s so important to “crash proof” your portfolio today…

A market neutral portfolio is just one way to protect yourself from this crisis. That’s because the coming crisis will be almost impossible to escape. It won’t matter if your money is in stocks, a pension, or a 401(k).

For other ways to “crisis proof” your wealth, we encourage you to watch this short presentation. In it, E.B. explains why the coming crisis could cause stocks to plunge 50%…trigger a collapse of the banking system…and even provoke the government to ban cash outright.

By watching the video, you'll also have a chance to take advantage of a trial subscription to The Casey Report, which includes two special reports designed specifically to help you survive and prosper during the coming crisis.

This could easily be one of the most important messages we ever deliver. To watch this video—for free—click here.