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TheStreet Open House

Foreign Consumer ETFs Winning Performance Game

The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts GDP growth in 2011 for 40 out of 42 of the world's largest economies. If those countries are going to contribute positively to the current global industrial cycle, manufacturers will require more oil, gas, corn, wheat, potash, aluminum, coal, silver, rare earth metals and a wide array of commodities.

It follows that many thinkers are focusing on the investment prospects of the energy and materials segments. Yet, even if businesses in emerging countries contribute more to GDP than consumers contribute (the opposite is true stateside), smart folks may be overlooking the consumption angle.

Keep in mind, the estimated trade deficit for the U.S. is $500,000,000,000... or half a trillion dollars. The fact that the rest of the world accumulates these liquidated assets implies a trickling down of wealth for rising middle classes; spending power in China and Brazil may be worthy of the most attention due to the size and growth rates of their respective economies.

Now here's why I've suggested that the foreign consumer may not be getting his/her due. Since a corrective equity phase effectively bottomed out in early July, emerging market consumer funds have beaten emerging market mainstays.

For example, the export-dominant iShares MSCI Brazil (EWZ) is heavily weighted towards materials, but it is underperforming the local consumer-oriented Market Vectors Brazil Small Cap (BRF).

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