WSJ: Trying to Eliminate Risk Often Means Increasing It

Tuesday, 28 Feb 2012 07:51 AM

By Dan Weil

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In the wake of the 2008-09 financial market meltdown investors across the globe sought ways to reduce their risk.

In the United States, for example, they flocked to the safety of Treasury bonds, utilities, and other blue-chip dividend stocks. But now investors may be avoiding risk at their own peril, experts tell The Wall Street Journal.

“We don't think investors are de-risking," says Fran Kinniry, an investment strategist at Vanguard Group. "We think they are re-risking. Mainly they're chasing recent past performance," in stocks and bonds alike.

Editor's Note: You Owe It to Yourself to Know What Obama and Bernanke Are Hiding From Americans

For example, Emerging-markets mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) saw a net inflow of $7.9 billion in January, compared to $11 billion for all U.S. stock funds combined.

Emerging markets have certainly produced outsized returns in recent years – to the tune of 15 percent annually over the last decade, compared to just 3.5 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

And emerging markets are likely to rise further over the long term. But there are plenty of reasons for caution in the near term.

"There is much more to worry about, from the economic-stability point of view, in emerging markets than in developed markets," George Greig, an international stock manager at William Blair, tells The Journal.

Investing is a tricky game in that you want to buy securities when things look worst for them and sell when things look best. But even that strategy has risks of its own.

Editor's Note: You Owe It to Yourself to Know What Obama and Bernanke Are Hiding From Americans

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