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Blog | The Portfolio Doctor

The Portfolio Doctor

My blog provides valuable insights into Nobel Prize-winning financial strategies for investors. By utilizing decades of worldwide peer-reviewed capital markets research and analysis, I demonstrate how to build better investment portfolios with lower risks. I also examine common financial media misinformation and how investors can make better financial decisions.

Why Should I Invest Outside the US?

Client Question of the Week:

Why Should I Invest Outside the US? 
    • Don't put all your eggs in one basket. We've all probably heard the old idiom warning against the danger of committing all your resources into one area. If you wouldn't make a concentrated investment on one single stock, why would you limit your investment opportunities to just one country?
  • The US stock market is the biggest in the world1, making up 57% of world equity market capitalization. Our domestic market represents 3,655 companies and $42 trillion1. While that is significant, if you limit your investments to the US, you will miss out on the 7,418 companies in the developed ex us market and 8,716 companies in emerging markets2.
  • Population size and GDP may not be the most important factors when considering where to invest. For example, Japan is relatively small when looking at landmass, but the country accounts for 7% of the world's equity market value and includes many familiar names like Sony and Toyota 2. Sweden outperformed the US in 2020 and is home to many companies we enjoy like Spotify, Volvo, H&M, and of course, IKEA3.
  • There's no evidence that one or a few specific developed countries are expected to outperform. The table below, in which each color represents one of 22 developed countries over 20 years, shows just how random country returns can be. The scattered colors suggest it is nearly impossible to predict which country will be at the top from one year to the next.
  • Would you have predicted 20 years ago that Denmark would be the top performer in developed markets? From 2001- 2020 Denmark experienced annualized returns of 11.7%, while the US had annualized returns of 7%3. That's not to say you should now go all-in on Danish companies, but rather, a globally diversified portfolio would have been positioned to capture those returns.
  • Just because a country does well one year does not mean it will continue to outperform the next year. For example, Austria experienced the highest returns for developed markets in 2017 but fell to the worst performer in 20183.
  • Over the past few years, US stocks have outpaced international and emerging markets. But just because US stocks have outperformed non-US stocks recently does not mean that these short-term returns are reliable indicators of future returns.
  • Recent performance may lead some to forget the "Lost Decade" from 2000 - 2009, in which the S&P 500 had a total cumulative return of minus 9.1%4• However, the investment experience was much more favorable for those with a global opportunity set. The MSCI World ex-US Index (net div.) had a total cumulative return of 17.47% and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (net div.) returned 154.28%4.
  • Headlines may warn about investing in other countries for one reason or another based on the crisis of the day. Recently, attention has circled around the vaccine rollout globally. However, expectations around a country's future risks and rewards have already been incorporated into market prices.

Summit CQOW Chart 1

1Based on the total value of shares issued by all publicly traded companies, calculated as share price times the number of shares outstanding. As of 12/31/2020.

2In USD. Market cap data is free-float adjusted and meets minimum liquidity and listing requirements. Dimensional makes case-by-case determinations about the suitability of investing in each emerging market, making considerations that include local market accessibility, government stability, and property rights before making investments. China A-Shares that are available for foreign investors through the Hong Kong Stock Connect program are included in China. 30% foreign ownership limit and 25% inclusion factor are applied to China A-Shares. Many nations are not displayed. Totals may not equal 100% due to rounding. For educational purposes; should not be used as investment advice. Data provided by Bloomberg. Diversification neither assures a profit nor guarantees against loss in a declining market. As of 12/31/2020.

3In USD. MSCI country indices (net dividends) for each country listed. Does not include Israel, which MSCI classified as an emerging market prior to May 2010. MSCI data © MSCI 2021, all rights reserved.

4S&P data © 2020 S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a division of S&P Global. All rights reserved. MSCI data © MSCI 2020, all rights reserved.

Tags: stock market, investment management, world markets

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