Investment opportunities exist all around the globe, but the randomness of global stock returns makes it exceedingly difficult to figure out which markets are likely to be outperformers. How should investors deal with this kind of uncertainty?
First, they should remember that it’s challenging, at best, to predict a country’s returns by looking at the past, as shown by the performance of global markets since 2001 (see Exhibit 1). In the past 20 years, annual returns in 22 developed markets varied widely from year to year. (Each color represents a different country, and each column is sorted top down, from the highest-performing country to the lowest.)