ETFs For The Non-Apocalyptic Investor

Includes: AMJ, EWM, GXC, HDV, PCY
by: Gary Gordon

I represent hundreds of families as the president of my Registered Investment Adviser, taught financial concepts to classrooms around the world, spent years as the CFP on a national talk radio show and receive countless e-mails from wisdom seekers. Yet I would not be able to tally the number of investors who I have encountered in my lifetime.

However, there are a wide variety of themes that come up ... over and over again. Some of the themes come from a place of greed, though the overwhelming majority come from a place of fear.

Here are three of the most common recurring ideas that I have listened to over the last quarter century. Alongside each idea, I am offering an ETF enthusiast’s carefully crafted rejoinder:

1. “Decades of debt-fueled excesses will crush the industrialized world, and it’s too late to do anything about it.”

Ahhh ... the doomsday screenplay. Of course, if you happen to write an article suggesting why Italy will not fail, scores of hate-mongers will tell you that you’re ignorant.

Yet central banks around the world did act in a coordinated effort, demonstrating that the world is willing to commit to the free flow of credit. What’s more, China did begin easing. (I anticipated both of these steps in my previous commentary.)

In fact, it may not be the actions taken on the last day of November that sent the Dow up close to 500 points. Rather, it was the willingness of major world powers to work together - from China to Japan to U.S. to Canada.

If a doomsday prophecy is going to come to pass, then the only good investments are canned goods and water. On the other hand, if you believe that financial markets will exist – even with bear markets and bullish recoveries - there’s no reason to ignore investments that benefit from China beginning to ease. There’s no reason to doubt the reality that many corporations will continue to thrive over the next decade, selling products and services to an upwardly mobile middle class in China.

Consider iShares MSCI Malaysia (NYSEARCA:EWM) as an investment in GDP expansion in China as well as middle class success on the mainland. More aggressive investors can certainly tap China directly with S&P SPDR China (NYSEARCA:GXC).

2. “They rig the stock market for the big boys and fancy traders. The small fries have no chance to succeed.”

Certainly, hedge funds and institutional investors have advantages. Whether it is high-frequency technical trading or sophisticated shorting and hedging, I agree ... money managers can do a number of things that an individual investor cannot.

On the flip side, the more money managed, the less agile an institutional investor can be. Rules, regulations and restrictions abound. And it’s a heck of a lot more challenging selling 200,000 shares in a block account for an ETF with a daily average volume of 500,000 shares than it is for one individual to execute a stop-limit loss order.

I like iShares High Dividend Equity (NYSEARCA:HDV) for the 150 basis point superiority over the 10-year U.S. treasury as well as the high probability that these large, stable companies will raise their dividends consistently over the next decade. Rising dividends, compounding ... that’s a heck of a lot more worthy than a fixed yield of 2%.

You can get in or out of HDV at a price point that you want with ease. The big, mean institutional money? It may not be able to get it at all, or it may take three days to work the trade slowly over time.

3. “The return of your capital is more important than the return on your capital.”

Really? Sure, that little snippet comes across as savvy and erudite in bear markets. Of course, 99% of people would not be able to retire on the return of their capital.

There is something like $9 trillion wasting away in bank savings accounts. Most of that money is paying homage to the 2008 subprime-induced collapse. Yet even investors who chose conservative risk in 2009, 2010 and 2011 have earned a decent return on their principal.

I don’t know when more of that ”cashola” will find its way back into equities. But I know that it will. In fact, I’d be more worried if all of that savings fueled speculative share purchases of Zynga and Facebook.

Make your financial life better by ”banking” on countries that can pay their debts via PowerShares Emerging Market Sovereign Debt (NYSEARCA:PCY). That’s a 5% coupon worth clipping, and probable capital appreciation as emerging markets continue to ease. Recognize that the transportation system for oil and gas can be owned with JP Morgan Alerian MLP (NYSEARCA:AMJ) and clip that 5% coupon as well.

Disclosure: Gary Gordon, MS, CFP is the president of Pacific Park Financial, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC. Gary Gordon, Pacific Park Financial, Inc, and/or its clients may hold positions in the ETFs, mutual funds, and/or any investment asset mentioned above. The commentary does not constitute individualized investment advice. The opinions offered herein are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities. At times, issuers of exchange-traded products compensate Pacific Park Financial, Inc. or its subsidiaries for advertising at the ETF Expert web site. ETF Expert content is created independently of any advertising relationships.