European exposure and global diversification
Some of our clients occasionally express concern about the situation in Europe. Here’s what our Director of Research, Larry Katz, has to say about Merriman portfolio exposure to those markets:
Europe’s ongoing debt problems have prompted many investors to consider their European exposure, especially to the euro zone’s weaker countries. While there certainly could be global impacts emanating from any area of the world, a major benefit of true global diversification is the controlled direct exposure to the problems of any given geography.
For example, one of our major portfolios is MarketWise Tax-Deferred, a globally diversified, buy-and-hold portfolio with a value and small-cap tilt. Half of the stock exposure of this portfolio is in the United States. The other half is distributed throughout the world.
Of the 50% overseas exposure, as of the end of March 2012 just over 22% was in Europe. Notably, most of that exposure was to the stronger European countries. The top six European countries by exposure (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands) comprised almost 18% of the total invested in Europe. The weaker countries of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy totaled only 1.73%.
So a 60/40 stock/bond portfolio had just over 1% exposure to these five troubled countries.
Every portfolio has to incur various risks to generate returns. The key is to intelligently diversify so that, under a variety of market conditions, those risks remain under control.