Why I Still Like Emerging Markets

Periods of global instability create intriguing possibilities in emerging markets. Here are a few.

globe lit up on light board with cityscape in background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the themes of this column is that no one can time the markets. I'm fond of quoting the late John Bogle, founder of Vanguard and the apostle of index funds, who said, "Sure, it'd be great to get out of stocks at the high and jump back in at the low…. But I've been in this business 55 years and … I not only have never met anybody who knew how to do it, I've never met anybody who had met anybody who knew how to do it."

Some readers may think I'm quoting Bogle as an excuse for a column I wrote last year on the stocks of emerging markets. I issued some warnings, but I was generally upbeat. As it turned out, the stocks performed poorly. The exchange-traded fund iShares MSCI Emerging Markets (EEM), which is linked to a popular index, has lost 8.5% in the past 12 months, compared with a gain of 2.9% for the U.S. benchmark, the S&P 500 index. 

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James K. Glassman
Contributing Columnist, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
James K. Glassman is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. His most recent book is Safety Net: The Strategy for De-Risking Your Investments in a Time of Turbulence.