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ETF Takes Out Currency Variable

So what's a practical purpose for such a fund? WisdomTree President Bruce Lavine says an investor could increase foreign exposure because the risk of the currency is removed. Perhaps so, though the ETF may serve investors who have an opinion on the direction of the dollar and a willingness to quickly switch from hedged to unhedged. That description would seem to apply to institutional investors more so than individual investors.

There are plenty of dollar bulls, and their argument usually focuses on things like signs of an economic recovery, interest rates that are likely to rise, other countries being worse off than the U.S., a rally in the greenback or any combination of the four. As late 2008 and early 2009 showed, the dollar is capable of big rallies even when the fundamentals appear to be lousy. Just as this has happened before, it will happen again, and when it does, U.S. investors holding foreign stocks and commodities will get hit hard. The WisdomTree International Hedged Equity Fund offers a way to avoid that, but it's worth repeating that it's a double-edged sword. If the dollar continues on some sort of slow decline, the ETF will lag behind.

At the time of publication, Roger Nusbaum had no positions in the securities mentioned.

Nusbaum is a portfolio manager with Your Source Financial of Phoenix, and the author of Random Roger's Big Picture Blog. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Nusbaum appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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