Two Emerging Markets ETFs -- Good Places to Park Your Cash

ETFs may be a good place to park your cash
ETFs may be a good place to park your cash

Sorry to ruin your pity party, but if you want to retire, you're going to have to get more than a 0.04% return on all that cash piling up in your money market fund. How? You could do worse than follow Harvard's endowment into emerging market exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

It's an election year, and the losers of the last one are doing a great job of pushing rage and pessimism into the American psyche. How better to get back in power?

Unfortunately, all that pessimism isn't going to help you make up for the declining value in stocks over the last decade -- the Dow has fallen 11% from the 11,500 level where it sat in 2000.

Going Conservative at the Wrong Time

Naturally, the money is flowing out of stocks and into so-called conservative investments just at the wrong time. According to The New York Times, through July, investors yanked $33.12 billion from domestic stock mutual funds -- but experts think $10 billion to $20 billion should have flowed in given the state of the economic recovery.

Meanwhile, investors shoveled $185.31 billion into bond mutual funds, according to the Times. If inflation is around the corner -- as some hedge-fund honchos are betting -- those bond investors are going to take a licking. If inflation roars back, the Fed will raise interest rates and the value of the bond funds will drop.

Harvard's endowment made some pretty boneheaded moves during the boom years. So should you follow it now? The best thing to do is to read the prospectuses for these ETFs and analyze the economic growth statistics for the countries that they represent.

Harvard Endowment's Current ETF Investments

According to tickerspy, these two are among the leading places that Harvard's endowment had invested at the end of June:

  • iShares MSCI Chile Investable Market Index Fund (ECH). Chile's GDP grew 6.5% in the second quarter, and this ETF has climbed 23.7% in 2010.

  • Market Vectors Indonesia Index ETF (IDX). Indonesia's GDP grew 6.2% in the second quarter and this ETF is up 24.7% in 2010.

For a deeper dive into these markets, my ninth book, Capital Rising, co-authored with Srini Rangan, contains a Capital Receptivity Index that you can use to analyze how receptive these markets are to foreign capital flows. And the higher the CRI -- based on specific measures of a country's capital markets, corporate governance, human capital and intellectual property protection -- the more an investment in these countries is likely to appreciate.

Are you going to celebrate your misery with the rest of your fellow citizens, or will you invest where the growth is?