Monday, January 11, 2010

Market Predictions for 2010

As another year begins, all the market pundits are actively making their predictions for 2010. "International is the place to be... "stick with gold"... "buy tech"... "municipal bonds are attractive due to higher taxes on the horizon."

It's amazing how everyone has an opinion and everyone is the expert. Oddly, some will be correct and many will be dead wrong. But, they will still make predictions every year!

What do I think will happen in the capital markets in 2010?


One thing I do know for sure though, asset allocation does work and should be a part of every one's portfolio. Conventional wisdom states cash/bonds/stocks/real estate & commodities should be included in every ones portfolio. Your allocations will vary based on goals & risk tolerance.

Similar to a baseball team, you should have someone at each position. After all, if everyone is playing first base and the ball gets hit to center field, you missed the action! This isn't to say you couldn't shift the left fielder a little towards center or move the third baseman in just in case there's a bunt.

Matter of fact, this could be a good strategy for 2010. Volatility was running wild in both 2008 and 2009. Unfortunately, the downward pressure of 2008 left people queasy. Along came 2009 with upside volatility and everyone felt better.

So, if we're back to some sort of equilibrium point in the capital markets, what comes next? Once again; I don't know, but I think quality of earnings will be a huge factor this year. Predictable, high quality earnings from large companies with a history of solid earnings & dividends should be rewarded this year. In the mutual fund world, this means large cap domestic equity funds should benefit.

International/emerging market exposure would have to be considered a good investment class as well. The weak US dollar will continue to plague our nation until the budget deficit is addressed. Unfortunately, correcting this issue will take years. I'm certain the U.S. dollar will rally from time-to-time simply based on news flow, but this will probably be short lived. Competing against currencies such as the Australian, New Zealand & Canadian dollar will prove challenging.

While our gross domestic product (GDP) struggles to show positive growth, several emerging market countries are showing GDP growth of 5%-8% per year. Some countries are simply in better financial shape than we are due to import/export balances. The US continues to import more than we export, so our trade balance is never favorable. Too many people consuming products not readily available in our country is a problem.

So, increasing your international and/or emerging market equity exposure would seem prudent. Not only should this enhance your long-term performance, it should lower your portfolio risk or volatility due to the lower correlation with US equities.

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