Buy Into the Only Real Economy Left in the World
With most of the world's major economies running the printing presses to the point where it's becoming absurd, there's one country out there that is in the catbird seat when it comes to a strong, stable economy, growing export markets and strong stable companies.
And it's only going to get better.
Yes, there's a world of opportunity out there, but for all the good there are some serious risks in the usual investing suspects:
The U.S. stock market is busting out to new highs, but the U.S. economy remains below par and the federal budget deficit remains at staggeringly high levels.
In Japan, the government is doubling down on U.S. policies, with a budget deficit and monetary "stimulus" twice the size of the U.S. figures.
Britain and the EU are locked in recession, with "austerity" apparently not working and close to being abandoned, while monetary policy becomes looser and looser, with interest rates well below inflation.
Best Investments 2013: Buy the Top-Performing Emerging Market of Q1
While the Standard & Poor's 500 Index 10% first-quarter gain was great, it wasn't the world's best.
One of the standout performances in 2013's first quarter was in a market that's off many investors' radar screens: the Philippines.
The Philippine stock market, valued at about $236 billion, rose by 17.8% in the first quarter.
Money Morning's Global Investing Strategist Martin Hutchinson told us to invest in the Philippines back in November. Hutchinson said the BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India and China – are no longer the best investments for overseas growth. Instead, it's time to focus on the true rising stars in the emerging world, like the Philippines.
As Hutchinson says, "With the right emerging markets, real growth is easier than you think."
Here's why the Philippines is expected to continue this growth in Q2.
Investing in Mexico May Be a 100-Year Opportunity
A hundred years ago Mexico was a very different place.
Believe it or not, Mexico was once a free-market beacon of rapid economic growth. It had low taxes, encouraged foreign investment and had reformed its laws to become more business-friendly.
And under Porfirio Diaz, Mexico pursued a pro-U.S. policy, invested heavily in education and rejoiced when local and foreign magnates opened new job opportunities for the Mexican people.
Then it was all undone. Diaz was tossed out by a revolution in 1911.
Since then the news from Mexico hasn't been so good.
After more than a decade of unrest, the Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) took over in 1929 and ruled the country with a kind of klepto-socialism for the next 71 years.
In the aftermath, the oil business was later nationalized, and run thereafter as a state-owned monopoly called Pemex with no foreign investment allowed. The education system became dominated by the teachers' unions, a central force of the PRI.
And in 1988, the telecom company was privatized to Carlos Slim, who gave Mexico a monopoly service with some of the world's highest telecom rates, thereby making himself the world's richest man.
In 2000, the PRI did manage to finally lose power. But the PAN governments of 2000-2012 never had a majority in Congress, and did little to improve conditions in energy, education or telecoms.
Emerging Markets: Is This A "New Chapter" for Turkey?
In 2012, Turkey was the best performer among the emerging markets we track on our Periodic Table showing a decade of returns. All developing countries rose last year, but stocks in Turkey climbed an astounding 56 percent.
While visiting the country last week, I was happy to see my explicit knowledge of Turkey's growth was supported by my tacit knowledge.
Istanbul has been in the midst of a fantastic transformation from an impoverished population to one of affluence. Popping up among the beautiful Ottoman mosques, Byzantine churches, palaces and bazaars are ultra-contemporary art sculptures, shopping malls and lush landscaping.
How to Invest in Graphene
When people ask how to invest in graphene, I think of a recent History Channel series called "The Men Who Built America."
It isn't about financial tricks, dark pool trading, mergers and acquisitions, derivatives and securities bundling. It's about a time when real things were built by real people.
It's one of the reasons I'm excited about graphene. It's about time that we started to invest in real things again.
Graphene is literally the kind of game-changer that will separate the walkers from the talkers and reshape all of our industrial and commercial production possibilities.
That's why this modest carbon derivative-akin to atomic scale chicken wire– has set the world's research community on fire.
Why Some of the Best Investments for 2013 Come from this Region
With low growth forecast in the United States, some investors have headed beyond U.S. borders in search of the best investments for 2013 – and landed in Latin America.
Latin America's largest economies, like Brazil, aren't the ones that will be delivering the biggest stock gains this year. As measured by the iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (NYSE: EWZ), equities in the region's largest economy are extending last year's glum pace as the exchange-traded fund (ETF) is off nearly 2% to start the year.
But while economies like Brazil and Argentina might not offer the best investments for 2013, there are some "unsung gems" that will deliver.
Here are some of the most promising Latin American names, both on the equity and debt fronts, that investors should consider this year.
Investing in 2013: Watch These Emerging Market Rebounders
Broadly speaking, 2012 was an excellent year for investing in emerging markets stocks and ETFs – making some of them a good bet for investing in 2013.
The returns offered by the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (NYSE: EEM), which has almost $51 billion in assets under management and is used by many professional investors as an emerging markets benchmark, indicate as much. EEM, the second-largest emerging markets ETF, returned 13.4% last year.
Given that EEM offers exposure (to varying degrees) to more than 20 countries, the ETF's 2012 performance could leave some investors thinking the just completed year was one big party for developing market equities. Unfortunately, that was not the case as some of the developing world's marquee countries, at least at the ETF level, were absolute laggards.
So while investors were tantalized by the jaw-dropping returns generated by ETFs tracking the likes of Mexico, the Philippines and Thailand just to name a few, chances are there were some mediocre performances from ETFs tracking countries in the same region.
However, there is an important factor when it comes to investing in emerging markets and it is one that runs counter to conventional wisdom.
The conventional wisdom is that it's best to avoid laggards and embrace leaders. But with emerging markets ETFs, they take turns moving between the leaders and laggards categories.
For example, the iShares MSCI Thailand Investable Market Index Fund (NYSE: THD) finished 2011 in the red. In 2012, THD gained over 36%, making it one of the best ETFs tracking any asset class.
While that doesn't mean THD is bound to be a laggard this year, it does mean some emerging markets funds that left investors with sour tastes in their mouths last year have the potential to soar in 2013.
Here are a couple to consider.
Investing in S. Korea Today is Like Buying the U.S. in the 1990s
If you're tired of the crisis a month routine we've seen with the United States and the Eurozone, there's always South Korea.
In fact, for demographic and budgetary reasons, South Korea is much like the United States was during the prosperous 1990s–not the deficit-ridden, slow-growing place the U.S. has become.
The truth is South Korea, has very little foreign debt, and recently re-elected the pro-business party by a comfortable margin. What's more, South Korea has kept its government the smallest in the OECD club of rich nations.
So if you haven't considered investing in South Korea you should.
Emerging Markets 2013: The Unsung Gems of Latin America
For investors in search of growth in 2013, one of the best places to look is in emerging markets, particularly in the often-neglected region of Latin America.
While most of the talk about investing in emerging markets over the past several years has focused on Asia, particularly China and India, Latin America has been quietly enjoying a nice little boom of its own.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects economic growth in Latin America at 3.2% for 2012 and 3.9% in 2013, compared with growth in the United States of just 2.2% in 2012 and 2.1% in 2013.
But several of the emerging markets of Latin America should perform much better than the regional average.
For example, the IMF estimates the gross domestic product (GDP) of both Chile and Colombia will grow 4.5% in 2013, while Peru's GDP will rise 5.8%, Panama's 7.5% and Paraguay's an eye-popping 11%.
Investors in search of growth clearly need to consider the emerging markets in Latin America.
"Latin America as a whole has averaged 4% real growth in the last decade, far more than you would have gotten in Europe, North America or even much of Asia outside of China and India," said Money Morning Global Investing Strategist Martin Hutchinson.
Still, investors need to research the region before going shopping. Not every Latin American country is a winner.
"The region remains a minefield for investors," Hutchinson said, noting that many of its governments are left-leaning and prone to policies that hurt business.
The Wall Street Journal recently described the emerging markets of Latin America as "a tale of two economies" with the philosophy of the political leadership determining which is which.
"The global slowdown of the past two years has created a divide in the region between countries that pushed a more aggressive free-market agenda and kept a tighter grip on the public purse and those that used the swell in coffers from rising commodity prices to embrace a bigger role for government in the economy," the Journal said.
The key to investing in the emerging markets of Latin America in 2013, then, is looking at the countries' government policies to sort out which are the darlings and which are the dogs.
Lucky for you, we already did the research…
The IMF's Change on Capital Controls Adds Danger for Emerging Market Investors
The IMF is up to no good again.
On Monday they released a new report on international capital flows which relaxed its opposition to exchange controls.
By doing so, the IMF has now made emerging market investments more risky, especially for retail investors.
What's more, they likely imposed a major new cost on the global economy.
The irony is that the IMF is trying to solve a problem that was caused by foolish global monetary policies. Relaxing its opposition to capital controls is just more of the same.
Removing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his world-wide sympathizers, and restoring a true free global capital market would work much better.
The IMF does correctly note that capital flows have vastly increased in recent years. That's where the initial problem comes from. It's the solution that's dangerous.