The International Investor: 5 Benefits of Buying International Equities

You’re buying up companies in the U.S., but there’s a world outside of the country – you’ve just never been exposed to it. Should you? Many investors haven’t bothered with international equities. It’s not that they are unattractive. It’s that many investors just don’t know how to invest in foreign companies. But, there are many benefits to looking beyond your own back yard for good investment opportunities.

International Diversification

One of the most common arguments for investing abroad is international diversification. By getting out of the U.S., you’re not exposing yourself to the whole of the U.S. economy. Remember 2008? It was a terrible year for investors. Yet, countries like Canada didn’t have the same kind of downturn in the economy. Its banking system was more stable, banks weren’t making as many risky loans, and the types of loan programs just didn’t exist there.

Thus, Canada isn’t continually experiencing the same type of banking problems that the U.S. is. But, it’s not just banking. Some countries have good exchange rates that favor investing in that country – take the UK for example. The pound is worth more than the dollar – a good thing for investors in this country.

Some countries might also pose a lower political risk than the U.S. – especially in certain industries. For example, in the U.S. the FDA’s red tape prevents many biotechnology companies from developing innovative products. In Europe, the regulatory climate is different and it may be easier to invest in your chosen sector.

Opportunities

Review sites like BrokerStance.com are quick to recommend brokers that can help you find opportunities in foreign countries. In fact, this is the main reason many people jump the U.S. ship and start looking elsewhere – opportunity.

What kind of opportunity? International startup companies, companies that are entering industries that are impossible in the U.S. due to government regulation (or that are expensive). For example, the healthcare industry is tightly regulated, along with the financial industry. But, the construction industry is not far behind these two and biotech and telecom are hard to get into these days as well.

Not all countries have the same regulatory environment in these industries. For example, Hong Kong is the freest country in the world, economically speaking, followed by Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. Investing in these countries might be easier and more profitable because of that.

The Perma-Bull Phenomenon

When you divest out of the U.S., you get to take advantage of bull markets in other countries. When your favorite industry isn’t performing well in the U.S., look for it in other countries. Sometimes, industries in one country experience a softening of the market. In other countries, they’re booming.

The U.S. Is A Smaller Share Of The Total Pie

Most people look at the U.S. as the largest and most profitable country in the world. But, the U.S. doesn’t have all of the money in the world. It does have the largest stock market, but that’s a title that’s slipping away. The U.S. only represents one-fourth of the total global economy. While it’s true that U.S. companies can have international operations, foreign companies themselves give you the opportunity to divest your portfolio out of the dollar.

That could be a good thing, depending on where you go. For example, the British pound is doing very well right now. Other currencies around the world are experiencing stability in the face of a dollar that struggles to succeed. For example, the Swiss Franc is doing quite well. Switzerland has a large, but stable, banking system. The Norwegian crown is another safe haven currency due largely to the fact that Norway has a lot of oil, a large trust fund, and no European Union membership. So, it’s essentially a sovereign nation.

The Singapore dollar is yet another safe currency. Singapore is not only a beautiful country, it’s the least corrupt one in the world. It’s also very friendly to banking and trading.

Finally, the Chilean peso is a good place to stash cash. This South American currency (actually the country) is far less corrupt than the U.S. It’s a commodity-driven economy and is better run than Australia. It also has a trust fund to guard against low commodity prices. So, stocks in this country should fare well, all things being equal (at least in terms of currency stability).

Jarryd Harden has had a long career in finance. He enjoys blogging about smart investing and wise money management.

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