Investment opportunities exist all around the globe, but the randomness of global stock returns makes it exceedingly difficult to figure out which markets are likely to be outperformers. How should investors deal with this kind of uncertainty?
First, they should remember that it’s challenging, at best, to predict a country’s returns by looking at the past, as shown by the performance of global markets since 2001 (see Exhibit 1). In the past 20 years, annual returns in 22 developed markets varied widely from year to year. (Each color represents a different country, and each column is sorted top down, from the highest-performing country to the lowest.)
Past performance is no guarantee of results. In 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.
Two examples help make the point well:
• Austria posted the highest developed markets return in 2017—but the lowest the next year.
• The US ranked in the top five for annualized returns over the entire 20 years but finished first in the country rankings just once over that period. In nine calendar years, it was in the lower half of performers.
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Douglas Finley, MS, CFP, AEP, CDFA founded Finley Wealth Advisors in February of 2006, as a Fiduciary Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisor, with the goal of creating a firm that eliminated the conflicts of interest inherent in the financial planner – advisor/client relationship. The firm specializes in wealth management for the middle-class millionaire.
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