As we begin looking at our year-end investment portfolios, and feeling a sense of dread as we see our retirement savings down a third or more, it is useful to compare the US markets with the rest of the world. As it turns out, over the last year US investors would have been better off investing more in the US, and less overseas in the "hot" markets, such as China and Brazil (see WSJ article). Just as many investors this year realized that their global exposure was a little lite, the bottom fell out in some of the very same markets they began increasing their exposure in (not to mention drops in the US market - see graphic below from the WSJ).

Source: Wall Street Journal and Thomson Reuters

After rallying nearly 10% over the last week, the DJIA is down "only" 33 percent for the year. In comparison, the Shanghai Composite (China) is down over 64 percent, while the the Bovespa (Brazil) the DAX (Germany) are down over 42 percent. The FTSE 100 (UK) is down about the same as the US DJIA. The Dow Jones World Index, which excludes the US markets, is down 49 percent in dollar terms YTD. Of course, massive sales of foreign stocks by US investors has also not helped international markets. Between July and September, US investors sold $92 billion more of foreign stocks and bonds than they bought during the same time. Therefore, if you recently failed to jump on the international diversification train this year, either because you had foresight, or were simply too confused or too lazy and never got around to it, smile - you could be even worse off this year. If you jumped on board back in 2003, you have experienced a nearly lost half-decade for many markets, but you can also smile - at least you are nearly flat. If you jumped on board in late 2007, or earlier this year, well ........, at least you have your health (and a lot of company to commiserate with).