Current global economic growth is likely to continue as structural reforms in Europe and Japan spur fundamental changes in those economies, along with rebounds in emerging markets.

That expected growth means international markets are likely to outperform the U.S. markets, which have seen an extended period of growth since the 2008 financial crisis, said participants in a conference call sponsored by BlackRock on Friday.

International markets are already outperforming the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index this year, with exchange-traded funds such as the Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF (VEU), the largest international ETF by assets under management, up 23.6 percent year-to-date, while the iShares MSCI ACWI ETF (ACWI) has gained 20 percent. Meanwhile, the SDPR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) is up 16.1 percent.

The structural reforms by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are taking hold, Europe’s recovery is broader, and as global trade has improved export-driven economies in emerging markets are benefitting, participants said, citing just a few reasons why they think international markets will continue to outperform.

Rusty Vanneman, chief investment officer at CLS Investments, a panelist on the conference, said when his company ran expected returns for the next five to 10 years using ETFs for different asset classes, it showed emerging markets will likely perform best.

“Roughly speaking you’re looking at five to six percent returns in the U.S. for the next five to 10 years, developed markets in the higher single digits, and emerging markets in the low double digits for the next five to 10 years,” he said. “So there’s substantial opportunity there.” 

The strength in international markets comes despite the geopolitical concerns seen this year, whether it is tensions with North Korea over their nuclear tests or election uncertainty in Europe, said Michael Jones, chairman and chief investment officer at RiverFront Investment Group. Market participants are taking a more rational approach toward geopolitical issues, he added.

“South Korea is one of the best-performing markets this year. Either it’s [North Korean saber rattling] going to turn out well, or the last thing we’re going to have to worry about is how our portfolio is doing,” Jones said.

Further, he noted, the reason why the market is not reacting to the Catalonian independence referendum the way it did with the Brexit vote is that market participants are less worried about the eurozone breaking up than in 2011 when concerns about southern European countries’ economies erupted. He says the election of French President Emmanuel Macron was a key factor since it signaled France wanted to remain in the eurozone and was serious about reforming its fiscal policies.

“The market is saying the euro will work … All the business investment that was held back because of the uncertainty over the euro is going to move forward,” Jones said.  “Growth is going to accelerate and we don’t have to freak out over Catalonia.”

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