(Dow Jones) Projections of fast growth make investing in emerging markets an attractive enough option. But some wealth managers see an additional reason to look abroad: the likelihood that currencies in developing nations will stay strong, too.
With foreign debt piling up, the U.S. and other developed countries have an interest in keeping the value of their currencies down. That's also a potential effect of the U.S. Federal Reserve's current round of "quantitative easing," which is primarily intended to stimulate domestic lending and give the U.S. economy a boost.
Meanwhile, the Fed's easing puts pressure on fixed income by lowering the relative value of already modest returns.
As a result, U.S.-investment dollars are flowing to emerging markets where economies are booming and, in the eyes of some, the outlook for the local currency is better.
"It comes down to buying something whose currency is more likely to be revised up," says Jason Pride, head of investment strategy at Glenmede, a Philadelphia-based firm that manages more than $18 billion for wealthy families, foundations, consultants and institutional plans.
In other words, the prospect of a weakening dollar--not to mention similar issues in Japan and Europe--puts a tactical edge on the long-term attraction of investing in markets that boast comparatively inexpensive production and growing domestic consumption.
According to the World Bank, developing countries housed about 56% of the world's gadget-hungry middle class in 2000. By 2030, these places will be home to 93% of the middle class, with China and India accounting for about two-thirds of this growth.
In terms of allocation, Pride suggests that emerging-market equities make up about 6% of the equity portion in a model portfolio that puts another 25% or so in non-emerging international and a solid 69% in U.S. stocks.
Buying stock in international conglomerates with lots of emerging-market exposure can also give investors a taste of developing-world growth, says David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, a Toronto-based wealth-management firm that manages about $6 billion.
For those investors who are nervous about political uncertainties in emerging markets, Rosenberg has another investment idea. "It's an entity with lots of commodity exposure that looks and sounds like the U.S. but isn't, namely Canada.
"Canada has all the things global investors want along with a similar rule of law to that of the U.S., only with a stronger dollar and without the same fiscal tab," says Rosenberg, who was chief North American economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York before joining Gluskin Sheff in 2009.
"We're getting a lot of interest out of Europe, and the interest from U.S.-based investors has actually been incredible," he adds.
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