Reasons To Include International Investments In Your Portfolio

The United States currently represents 60% of the global equity market.¹ This means investors with an extreme home bias are ignoring 40% of the equity universe. In truth, doing so over the last 14.5 years would have worked out for you, but markets are cyclical, so it’s unlikely this lasts forever. There’s also a long history of throne-swapping between U.S. and international stocks (see chart). Particularly in today’s challenging market environment, investors should think twice before giving ex-U.S. assets the cold shoulder.

The U.S. stock market doesn’t always dominate

The United States doesn’t always dominate the global equity market! When U.S. stocks are facing headwinds, international stocks may rise to the occasion. Sustained periods of outperformance by one region have been fairly common historically.

These bouts can be significant. For example, consider the ‘lost decade’ for U.S. stocks that started in the early 2000s. Between 2000 – 2009, the cumulative total return for the S&P 500 was negative 9.1% vs positive 30.7% for the MSCI All Country World Index ex U.S.

International stocks could outperform if U.S. stocks are struggling

The graphic above breaks down performance of the S&P 500 vs the MSCI EAFE. During periods when domestic stocks produced below-average returns, international equities did better, by over 2% on average. Further, during all rolling 10-year periods since 1971, the top performer was almost a coin toss: the U.S. only did better 56% of the time.

Since trying to time regime changes is very difficult in real time without the benefit of hindsight, there are reasons to consider allocating both U.S. and ex-U.S. equities to an asset allocation.

Ex-U.S. equity may be able to help reduce risk in a portfolio

Having international exposure in your portfolio in the early 2000s and throughout the Global Financial Crisis would have been a key ingredient in reducing overall risk and maintaining some level of investment return.

By way of example, consider this hypothetical 60/40 portfolio of stocks to bonds. The U.S. only portfolio includes the S&P 500 and Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond index while the U.S. & international portfolio allocates 20% of the equity exposure to the MSCI All-Country World Index ex-U.S.

Other reasons to consider international assets in your portfolio

  • Different sector concentrations. The U.S. is fairly tech heavy. The S&P 500 is currently about 27% technology companies. Compare that to Europe at 7%. Exposure to other sectors like financials and commodities in emerging markets can add overall diversification.
  • Currency risk and return. At a high level, the relative strength of foreign currencies to the dollar has the potential to help or hurt returns. Asset managers can engage in different strategies to hedge or boost returns around foreign exchange rates, but the takeaway is that currency can be another layer of diversification.
  • Valuations. Valuations outside of the United States have been much cheaper to the long-run averages for quite some time. Especially relative to the U.S., international stocks look much more attractive on a valuation standpoint. Despite the selloff in 2022, the S&P 500 is only now just in line with the 20-year average P/E ratio.

The takeaway

Adding ex-U.S. stocks to your portfolio may be able to help reduce risk over the long-term. But there are downsides to be aware of. Most notably, international assets tend to be more volatile. These swings can be to the upside or the downside. And just as the unique elements of investing overseas (like foreign exchange rates or sector exposure) can help investors at times, they can also hurt U.S. investors in other circumstances.Quintex3-1-2-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1

As with anything in investing, consider your personal risk tolerance, time horizon, and circumstances. Diversification isn’t a magic bullet, and if you do add international exposure to your portfolio, be sure to appropriately size the position to meet your needs.

I’m a Certified Financial Planner professional specializing in stock options and sudden wealth.

Source: Reasons To Include International Investments In Your Portfolio

International markets are generally divided into 2 categories:

  • Developed markets are located in countries that have established industries, widespread infrastructure, secure economies, and a relatively high standard of living.
    Examples of developed markets include the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Canada, and France.
  • Emerging markets are located in countries that have developing capital markets and less-stable economies. However, they’re considered to be in the process of transitioning into developed markets, and they may be experiencing rapid growth. Currently, emerging markets make up about 15% to 20% of international markets in total.
    Examples of emerging markets include India, China, Egypt, South Africa, Mexico, and Russia.

Not surprisingly, developed markets are similar to the United States when it comes to volatility levels and the range of potential returns. Emerging markets are more volatile than developed markets and have a wider range of potential outcomes. For that reason, we recommend that you don’t overweight your allocation to emerging markets.

How to choose an international investment

There are a few ways you can invest in foreign markets:

  • International funds invest only in foreign markets, excluding the United States.
  • Global or world funds provide exposure to both foreign and U.S. markets.
  • Regional funds invest primarily in a specific part of the world, like Europe or the Pacific region.
  • Developed markets funds focus on foreign countries with proven economies, like Japan, France, or the United Kingdom.
  • Emerging markets funds combine investments in countries that are considered to have “developing” economies, like India, Brazil, or China.

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American Express Announces First Crypto Rewards Credit Card On Its Network

American Express will soon debut the first crypto rewards credit card on its network. Announced today at the Consensus cryptocurrency conference in Austin,TX the card, developed in partnership with crypto wealth manager Abra, will transact in U.S. dollars and offer crypto back on any purchase category and amount. The rollout is expected later this year.

According to Abra’s CEO Bill Barhydt, who spoke with Forbes ahead of the announcement, the crypto rewards will be tradable across over 100 different cryptocurrencies supported by Abra with no annual or foreign transaction fees. In addition, the card will offer several benefits from the American Express Network, including offers for shopping, travel, dining and Amex’s purchase protections.

“We’re thrilled to combine the strength of our payments network with Abra’s innovation and expertise in crypto. This is a credit card for crypto explorers and enthusiasts alike,” said Mohammed Badi, President of Global Network Services at American Express.

Though first for American Express, the Abra crypto card is only the latest in a string of products offered by cryptocurrency companies on major payments networks, such as Gemini crypto card, which offers rewards in the form of bitcoin and over 60 other cryptocurrencies, and BlockFi rewards Visa card.

Abra received its first check from American Express back in 2015. Other notable investors include Digital Currency Group, Pantera Capital and the Stellar Development Foundation. Today the self-described “crypto bank” and Forbes’ Next Billion-Dollar Startups 2021 list member has over 2 million customers. The Mountain View, California-based firm says it has processed more than $2 billion in crypto-backed loans to retail and institutional clients.

The new joint initiative “represents another step toward Abra’s goal of eventually offering an instant line of credit directly at the point of sale,” said Barhydt. “This is the future of payments.”

Today the firm has also announced a new feature to buy and sell NFTs with managed custody in the Abra app. Rather than funding DeFi wallets and moving between different app interfaces to buy and sell NFTs from marketplaces like OpenSea, users will be able to buy and sell digital collectibles directly from Abra’s platform, Barhydt explained.

Cardholders can choose from any of the more than 100 cryptocurrencies supported on the Abra platform, with no annual or foreign transaction fees. The card will also come with Amex Offers for shopping, travel, dining and services as well as presale ticket access and purchase protections.

Commenting on the initiative, Mohammed Badi, president of Global Network Services at American Express, said:

“We have a long-standing relationship with Abra through our Amex Ventures investment portfolio, as they have deep expertise in both crypto and traditional financial services, and we are now pleased to extend the American Express brand and benefits to their customers as the payments network for their first card.”

In April, the firm announced the launch of a capital-management arm with five funds with exposure to bitcoin, ether and other cryptocurrencies available to accredited investors willing to invest at least $250,000.

I report on cryptocurrencies and other applications of blockchain technology. I also edit the weekly Forbes Crypto Confidential newsletter and contribute to our premium research service

Source: American Express Announces First Crypto Rewards Credit Card On Its Network

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Want To Change Your Life? Don’t Think One Year Into The Future — Think 10

You may be familiar with the saying “The future starts now.” As catchy as this phrase may be, it is fundamentally not true. The future doesn’t start now, or tomorrow, or next month—at least not if you want to get the most out of mental time travel. It takes much longer than that for the full benefits of the future to kick in. But when exactly the future starts depends on who you are and what your life circumstances are like. Let me tell you about a simple game I invented. If you play along, you’ll get a pretty good idea of when the future starts for you.

Every time I teach a futures-thinking class, I begin with a quick game of When Does the Future Start? I ask everyone: “If the future is a time when many or most things in your life will be different than they are today, how long from now does that future start?” I ask them to write down their answer in days, weeks, months, or years.

This isn’t a trick question, and there’s no single correct answer. In fact, usually there are dozens of different answers, all of them valid: a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now, twenty years from now. (If you want to play along, go ahead and think of your answer to this question now.) That said, 10 years is far and away the most common answer to the question “When does the future start?” In the responses I’ve collected from more than 10,000 students, almost everyone agrees: Ten years is enough time for society and my own life to become dramatically different.

What makes 10 years such a magic number for the mind?

Most of us have internalized the power of 10 years to create change through a combination of our own lived experience and social convention. We think about our own lives as a series of 10-year-long periods: our 20s, our 30s, our 40s, and so on. We use these milestone birthdays to reflect on what we want our next decade of life to be like.

And we talk about decades as units of time in which society changes: think about how different the 1920s were from the 1910s, the 1960s from the 1950s, or how different the 2020s have already been from the 2010s. Anyone who has lived through more than one decade, or studied history, already has a clear mental model of just how much can change in 10 years.

If you look at recent history, 10 years really does seem almost like a magic number. You can find myriad examples of new ideas and actions creating a previously unimaginable social reality over the time span of a decade, give or take a few months. This is particularly true when it comes to social movements achieving historic victories, and new technologies achieving global impact. To consider just a few examples, it took, give or take a few months:

• 10 years for the civil rights movement against racial segregation in the United States to go from its first boycott of segregated bus seating to the successful passage of the federal Civil Rights Act (1955–1964)

• 10 years for the first international economic sanctions against South Africa’s segregationist apartheid system to lead to a new constitution that enfranchised Black South Africans and other racial groups (1985–1996)

• 10 years for same-sex marriage to go from being considered controversial when it was legalized by a country for the first time (the Netherlands) to being supported in global surveys by a majority of people in a majority of countries (2001–2010)

• 10 years for marijuana to go from being legalized for all uses in one US state, Colorado, to being decriminalized in 44 out of 50 states (2012–2021)

And it took:

• 10 years from when just 16 million people, mostly scientists and other academic researchers, were using the internet—they thought it would be used mostly to share scientific data—to when 1 billion people were using it (1991–2001)

• 10 years from the first iPhone release until a majority of people on the planet had smartphones, creating a new era of always-on communication (2007–2017)

• 10 years for Facebook to go from one user to 1 billion daily users, on its way to becoming the first product used by more than 1 in 3 humans on the planet (2004–2015)

• 10 years for Bitcoin to go from being a hypothetical idea discussed in a scientific article to having a nearly $1 trillion market capitalization, larger than the three biggest U.S. banks combined (2008–2019)

• 10 years from Airbnb’s and Uber’s foundings for a full 36 percent of U.S. workers to be engaged in some form of “gig work” (2008–2018)

• 10 years for Zoom to go from its first user testing session to becoming a critical lifeline for humanity during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the de facto tool for learning, work meetings, and staying in touch with friends and family (2011–2020)

In other words: Things that are small experiments today in 10 years can become ubiquitous and world-changing. And social change that seems improbable or unimaginable—well, in 10 years that can change, too.

Of course, not all goals for change can be achieved in a decade—many social movements take much longer. And progress doesn’t just stop after 10 years. The purpose of looking 10 years ahead isn’t to see that everything will happen on that timeline—but there is ample evidence that almost anything could happen on that timeline. And for that reason, 10 years helps unstick our minds. Ten years helps us consider possibilities we would otherwise dismiss.

Ten years even relaxes us a bit as we try to imagine preparing for dramatic disruptions or for a radical rethinking of what’s normal—because 10 years gives us time to get ready. And it’s for this reason that whenever I send people on mental time trips to the future, I almost always send them 10 years ahead. Futurists want people to go somewhere they believe anything can be different—even things that seem impossible to change today.

When we think on a 10-year timeline, it’s not just that we are more likely to believe that dramatic change can happen in the world. We become more optimistic and hopeful about what we can change through our own efforts. This has to do with a psychological phenomenon known as time spaciousness. It’s the relaxing and empowering feeling that we have enough time to do what really matters—to consider our options, make a plan, and act more confidently to create the future we want.

It is almost impossible to create a sense of time spaciousness when we’re thinking in a matter of days or weeks. But when thinking ahead 10 years … ah, it’s so much time! On a 10-year timeline, we don’t feel rushed. We have plenty of opportunity to develop new skills, collect resources, recruit allies, learn from our mistakes, bounce back from setbacks, and do whatever else we need to do to get the best possible outcome. This feeling of abundance makes us less risk-averse and therefore more creative. We have all the time we need to play with ideas, try new things, and experiment until we figure out what works.

Interestingly, brains respond to abundant space in the same way as they do to abundant time. Studies have found that we also think more creatively and set higher, “maximal,” goals for ourselves when we’re in rooms with higher ceilings or outside in a wide-open environment. With maximal goals, we focus on the upper boundary: What is the highest and best possible outcome we can imagine? So I like to think of a 10-year timeline as a kind of cathedral or Grand Canyon for the mind. It lifts the ceiling on our imagination.

When we feel time-poor, on the other hand, it’s like being stuck in a tiny, depressing room with no windows. We shrink ourselves and imagine less. We adopt “minimal” goals, which means we try to do just enough to avoid a bad outcome. As one team of expert psychologists put it: “A maximal goal reflects the most that one could wish for, whereas a minimal goal reflects bare necessities or the least one could comfortably tolerate.”

Do you have a sense of whether you’re waking up each day focused on maximal or minimal goals? Whether you’re feeling time-rich or time-poor? Setting goals for yourself (or your family, or your community, or your organization) on too short a timeline usually creates the feeling of being time-rushed. So does being too busy, but that’s not something you can always control. So rather than drastically reduce what’s on your schedule, it’s much easier to control how far out in the future you’re imagining when you think about changes you’d like to achieve.

You may not be used to goal setting on a 10-year timeline. We usually think about making personal change year by year, most commonly by making resolutions at the start of the New Year. But a one-year resolution won’t help you think maximally, and you won’t feel a sense of time spaciousness if you’re trying to achieve a big goal in just one year. So next New Year’s Day, why not try a new tradition? Make a 10-year resolution.

What could you (or your family, or your community, or your organization) accomplish if you had 10 years to do it? What would the long-term impact of a new habit be if you practiced it for 10 years? Let your mind play with some bigger possibilities. Now this idea may not sound appealing to you at first. When it comes to making resolutions, you don’t want to be different in 10 years; you want to be different as soon as possible! So go ahead and keep making short-term resolutions. And try to stretch your imagination a decade further too, while you’re at it.

If you want to get a taste of time spaciousness right now, here’s a trick you can try: pick a tiny task—and give yourself 10 years to do it. You might think that having all this time will make you more likely to procrastinate, and you’ll never actually get around to doing it. But procrastination, paradoxically, is more likely to happen when you feel time-poor. When you feel like you have less time to get things done, you do less.

And when you feel you have ample time, you do more. Studies show this is true completely independent of how much “free” or unscheduled time a person has. What matters is whether your brain perceives an abundance of time. So give it a try. Give yourself luxurious 10-year deadlines. You might be surprised at how much faster and more happily you do things you’d otherwise put off when you feel time-rich, and therefore more in control of your timeline.

I want you to try this, for real: go ahead and put a deadline, or some other small goal, on your personal calendar, for 10 years from today. Google’s and Apple’s calendar apps will let you schedule things 10 years in the future. While you’ve got your mental or digital calendar open, let’s try a mental time trip. Imagine it’s 10 years from today, and you wake up incredibly excited about … something. You’ve got a special event on the calendar. What is it?

To help you imagine this future more clearly, skip ahead in your digital calendar to 10 years from today. Now, fill in the blank space. What do you have planned, 10 years from today? Who are you doing it with? What will you be wearing? What supplies will you need? Why is this activity important or exciting for you? And how do you feel now that the day is here? Try to answer all these questions and imagine the day ahead as vividly as you can. Be sure to think about how you and your life circumstances might be different from today, and how those differences might change what you want or are able to do.

As with any mental time trip to far in the future, it may take a few moments for your brain to start filling in the blanks. Sometimes it helps to plant the seed of imagination in your mind now and come back to it later. Just keep the calendar open and keep playing with possibilities. My challenge for you is to put something exciting—maybe even something life-changing—on your real-world calendar for 10 years from today. You’ll have a whole decade to decide if you want to actually make it happen.

By Jane McGonigal

Tomatoes Gene-Edited To Provide More Vitamin D

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Now, a team of researchers have come up with a potential new and vegan source of vitamin D: tomatoes gene edited using CRISPR-Cas9 technology to contain a precursor to vitamin D.

If the process is adopted commercially by farmers and producers, these tomatoes could help address vitamin D insufficiency, which the study said affects 1 billion people globally.

“This exciting discovery not only improves human health but contributes to the environmental benefits associated with more plant-based diets — often linked with a challenge in securing some key vitamins and minerals widely found and bioavailable in animal products,” Guy Poppy, a professor of ecology at the University of Southampton, told the Science Media Centre in London. He wasn’t involved in the research.

Vitamin D supplements are widely available in many countries, but coauthor Cathie Martin, a professor at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England, said that eating a tomato was “so much better than taking a pill.”

“I think that having a dietary source (of vitamin D) in the form of a plant also means that you can get added benefit from eating tomatoes. We don’t eat enough fruit and veg anyway. A tomato is a good source of vitamin C as well,” she said at a news briefing.The study published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Plants.

Sunshine vitamin

The main source of vitamin D for most people is dietary, but our body also makes the micronutrient when skin is exposed to UVB light — that’s why it’s sometimes called the sunshine vitamin. The scientists harnessed a similar process in tomato plants.

The compound in the skin that can make vitamin D is known as 7-DHC, or provitamin D3, and it’s also found in tomato plant leaves and unripe green fruit. The researchers blocked a gene in tomato plants that normally converts provitamin D3 into cholesterol, which enabled provitamin D3 to accumulate in the ripe tomato fruit. The tomato plant on the left is gene edited.

To convert the provitamin D3 into vitamin D3 that helps our bodies, the tomatoes were treated with UVB light. The study found that provitamin D3 in one tomato — once converted to vitamin D3 — would be equivalent to the amount of vitamin D3 contained in two medium-size eggs or 28 grams (1 ounce) of tuna.

A trial in the United Kingdom is assessing whether growing the tomato plants outdoors, where they would be exposed to natural sunlight, would automatically result in the conversion of 7-DHC to vitamin D3.

The first fruits are expected to ripen by the end of June, Martin said. The tomatoes could also be sun-dried once picked, removing the need for treatment with UVB light, she added. The UK Parliament passed new legislation earlier this year that is designed to facilitate trials of gene-edited crops.

Other vegetables

The gene-blocking technique, which the researchers are making freely available with the publication of the paper, could also be applied to other species of solanaceous plant such as bell peppers, chiles, eggplants and potatoes, Martin said.

Mushrooms can also be a source of vitamin D when treated with UVB light or wild grown, according to the researchers. However, these plants produced vitamin D2, which the paper said was “substantially less bioeffective” than vitamin D3, which comes from meat and dairy.

Also, vitamin D3 supplements typically aren’t vegan, said Susan Lanham-New, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Surrey in the UK. She wasn’t involved in the study.

 “Lanolin, which is the main source (for D3), is extracted from sheep’s wool. The sheep is still alive so it is OK for vegetarians. But it is not for vegans and that’s one of the things that makes this study very extraordinary is that you have a D3 source (from a plant),” she said at the briefing.

The leaves of the gene-edited tomato plants also contained a substantial amount of provitamin D, the researchers said. They were looking at ways this waste material could be turned into vegan vitamin D supplements. The study team hoped this could act as incentive for producers to plant and produce the biofortified tomatoes.

The gene-edited tomatoes looked indistinguishable from and tasted the same as regular tomatoes, said coauthor Jie Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the John Innes Centre, and gene editing didn’t affect the plan’s growth, development or yield.

The scientists who devised the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology won the Nobel prize in 2020. The tool is having a major impact on biomedical research, clinical medicine, agriculture and farming. Like a pair of precision scissors, it can target predetermined sites in genetic material, knocking out a particular gene or inserting new genetic material.

Source: Tomatoes gene-edited to provide more vitamin D – CNN

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