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What to Buy If the Sky Is Falling

This column was originally published on RealMoney on Feb. 16 at 8:15 a.m. EST. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.

RealMoney readers often ask me how to reduce exposure or correlation to the U.S. stock market, citing a litany of concerns: America's ever-growing need for foreign capital to fund its deficit; the threat of a weaker dollar; worries over higher energy prices. So it makes sense to explore ways to reduce reliance on the U.S. economy and capital markets.

Here are some ideas for a "Bomb Shelter Portfolio." Some of the concepts are rather extreme; I wouldn't recommend that anyone buy all of the investments listed below. However, a few of them could be the right way for you to create some diversification.

Most Canadian and Australian banks have a low correlation to the S&P 500. Both economies are driven by the supply and demand cycle for commodities.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (BCM) and Australia's Westpac Banking Corp. (WBK) have long track records of zigging when the U.S. zags. Additionally, both have high yields -- 3.4% and 4.3%, respectively.

If I had to choose only one, I would pick an Australian bank over their Canadian cousins because of Canada's proximity to the U.S.

While the U.S. imports much of its resources, you've probably heard that the U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of coal. While true change in the dynamics of our oil consumption is hard to visualize, it's possible that through technological innovation we could end up using more coal for home heating and powering vehicles. Consol Energy (CNX) and Peabody Energy (BTU) are two good proxies for the coal industry.

Is there anything more bomb shelter-like than uranium? This has been a small investing fad the last couple of years. Canada and Australia have the largest known uranium reserves: 12% and 30% of world totals, respectively.

Banking Abroad
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (BCM) and Australia's Westpac Banking Corp. (WBK) have a low correlation to the S&P 500
Source: BigCharts.com

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