Global Trader: Is The World Overweight Wall Street?

A lot of investors feel unhappy unless they have what they consider global diversification. That usually means buying an index fund that weights stocks according to their prominence in the global economy . . . biggest companies and biggest national markets first.

They shouldn’t bother. I just did the math and U.S. stocks account for 65% of all global equity, which means that if you buy one of those global funds you’re really just getting the S&P 500 plus a side order of companies that made a conscious choice years ago never to list their shares on Wall Street.

You’re getting AAPL and MSFT and AMZN and GOOG . . . just like the S&P 500. And you’re getting JNJ and JPM and all our other stocks. Exact same order in terms of weight. Just slightly smaller allocations as part of the overall portfolio.

The remaining 35% is of course where things get interesting. Much of it is Japan and the rest of it is Europe. I would not buy most stocks in Europe right now. Their economic situation makes ours look extremely robust.

Ask me again when winter is over. For now, buying those stocks is like throwing money away. You’re betting on dead money. Why? For novelty? For “diversification?”

Japan is in an only slightly better position right now. They don’t have oil of their own either. They’re trapped in an inflationary spiral. Can they innovate their way out any better than we can?

We’ll just have to see. And emerging markets are only half the weight of the developed world, not counting U.S. stocks. They’re barely 7% of the global portfolio.

That includes China. It includes India . . . Brazil, all of Latin America. South Korea. Russia, such as it is these days.

Do you really need that sliver of diversification? If you feel that those stocks are underpriced right now, buy them directly. Skip the global portfolio.