This is where it gets interesting... when two gurus start calling each other to the carpet. Jim Rogers slammed Nouriel Roubini recently, chastising his fellow guru with, It's clear that Mr. Roubini hasn't done his homework, yet again.
You see, Mr. Rogers believes that all commodities will revisit the 2008 highs. He expects gold will get above $2000 per ounce in the next decade. And he believes emerging market stock prices are easily justified by the growth taking place in those regions and countries.
Mr. Roubini, on the other hand, counters that investors are borrowing the weak U.S. dollar at non-existent interest rates to invest in speculative growth assets. The dollar-funded carry trade... borrowing form one country to investing in higher-yielding or higher appreciating assets elsewhere... is pushing capital into emerging markets. If the dollar surges 15%-20%, he reasons, the sell-off would be catastrophic.
In spite of the back and forth between these modern-day warriors, there's actually more near-term agreement than disagreement; that is, neither Rogers nor Roubini sees riskier assets falling anytime soon.
In fact, the head of market research at Roubini Global Economics, Arnab Das, expressed that emerging market assets are likely to extend their biggest rally in a decade. Mr. Das believes that while occasional corrections may occur, a surge in emerging market asset prices will have many legs because of the world's willingness to borrow U.S. dollars to buy stocks, commodities and foreign currencies.
Rogers agrees. He too sees that the dollar's decline is helping to fuel the worldwide purchase of stocks and commodities. He just doesn't think high prices have anything to do with bubbles.
So whether you follow Jim Rogers, Nouriel Roubini or neither one of them, which ETFs might benefit from their thinking? Here are a few ideas:
1. If you believe that investors will keep borrowing U.S. dollars to purchase higher-yielding currencies in the emerging market world, there's the WisdomTree Emerging Currency Fund (CEW). There's also the developed world version of the carry trade in the PowerShares G-10 Currency Harvest Fund (DBV). At the present time, both benefit from a weakening U.S. dollar.
2. Commodities are priced in U.S. dollars. All other factors remaining equal (e.g., supply, demand, speculation, etc.), the lower the dollar, the more that a given commodity will cost. If you want to benefit from rising commodity prices, there's the Elements Rogers International Commodity ETN (RJI). There's also the GreenHaven Continuous Commodity Index Fund (GCC).
3. Finally, R & R don't seem to have any dispute about emerging stocks going higher. The dispute seems to be in the nature of bubbles, the fundamentals behind asset price justification and the likelihood or non-likelihood of an ugly ending. For now, however, they're both on board for China (FXI), Singapore (EWS) as well as broad-based exposure in Vanguard Emerging Markets (VWO).
Of course, some folks don't have the fortitude to deal with the volatility of emerging market investing. So what if I told you that an emerging market is showing significantly stronger gains that the S&P 500, but with less volatility (i.e. risk)? In all likelihood, then, we'd be talking about the iShares MSCI Malaysia Fund (EWM).
RiskGrades.com currently assigns a standardized risk measure of 90 to EWM, while assigning a risk rating of 93 to the S&P 500 SPDR Trust (SPY). Similarly, WSJ.com pegs the beta for iShares MSCI Malaysia Fund (EWM) at 0.82 whereas the S&P 500's beta is 1.0.
One of the unique features of EWM over competing emerging market ETFs is its diversification. Brazil (EWZ) tends to move in lock-step with Global Materials (MXI), while Russia (RSX) depends 50% on oil/gas and energy company performance. On the flip side, EWM depends more on cyclical economic trends through consumer discretionary spending, industrials, consumer staples and financials.
In other words, it may just be a reasonable way to diversify your emerging market holdings that are heavy into natural resources. Of course, the superior 2-year bear-to-cyclical-bull results give still another favorable perspective for the iShares MSCI Malaysia Fund (EWM).
If you'd like to learn more about ETF investing... then tune into In the Money With Gary Gordon. You can listen to the show LIVE, via podcast or on your iPod.
Disclosure Statement: ETF Expert is a web log (blog) that makes the world of ETFs easier to understand. The content does not represent investment advice, nor are the securities discussed suitable for every investor. Pacific Park Financial, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC, may hold positions in the ETFs, mutual funds and/or index funds mentioned above. Investors who are interested in money management services may visit the Pacific Park Financial, Inc. web site.