“The reason our stock market is so successful is because of me,” said President Trump. He was speaking to reporters on Air Force One while on his way to Japan this month. The America First slogan has plenty of support. And U.S. stocks have continued to rally since Trump’s inauguration.
This year, the S&P 500 gained about 17 percent to November 9, 2017. That’s on top of the market’s 286 percent gain between March 2009 and January 1, 2017.
But smart investors also need to look beyond their borders. Tailwinds have pushed almost every global market since the beginning of the year. Ironically, the United States has one of the smallest sails.
Emerging market stocks have been this year’s biggest winners. The iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG) is up 32.38 percent for the year. Chinese, Chilean and South Korean stocks lead the charge. They have gained 53 percent, 35 percent and 40 percent respectively.
International developed markets have also done well. The iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF (IEFA) is up 22.67 percent. Austrian, German and Danish stocks contributed much to the gain. They’re up 46 percent, 26 percent and 29 percent respectively.
U.S. stocks have gained about 17 percent this year. But most other markets have beaten the United States.
Best To Worst Performing Stock Markets
January 1 – November 9, 2017
|Ranking||Stock Market||iShares Symbol||% Gain|
|26||United States||IVV (S&P 500)||+17.30%|
|Source: iShares (using ETF performances to November 9, 2017)|
International stocks might also keep winning.
Nobel prize-winning economist, Robert Shiller, created something called a cyclically-adjusted-price-to-earnings (CAPE) ratio. It averages inflation-adjusted earnings over the previous ten years. When CAPE ratios are well-above historical averages, stocks usually sputter during the decade ahead. When CAPE ratios are far below their historical average, the decade ahead usually bodes well for stocks.
Based on Shiller’s assessment, U.S. stocks are pricey. International stocks aren’t.
By comparison, most international markets sit in a normal range. Developed European markets trade at 18.6 times cyclically adjusted earnings. Emerging markets are even cheaper. They trade at 16.5 times earnings.
This doesn’t mean you should ditch your U.S. shares. In a February interview with CNBC’s Alex Rosenberg, Robert Shiller said, "My general thought is that I think it's quite reasonable to have an investment in U.S. stocks as part of a diversified portfolio…just don't go overboard on it."
Earlier this year, I wrote, Why Smart Investors Sold Some U.S. Stocks This Year. By rebalancing a diversified portfolio of U.S. and international stock market index funds, in January 2017, investors would have sold some U.S. shares, adding the proceeds to international stocks.
Such rebalancing doesn’t require knowledge of CAPE ratios or economic forecasts. It just brings a diversified portfolio back to its target allocation.
When building a portfolio, you can put America first. But don’t blind yourself to what the rest of the world offers.
Andrew Hallam is a Digital Nomad. He’s the author of the bestseller, Millionaire Teacher and The Global Expatriate's Guide to Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat.