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TheStreet Open House

Asia ETFs Offer Reward, Limited Risk

Stocks in this article: ALDICN

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( ETFExpert) -- Less than a year ago, China eclipsed Japan as the world's second largest economy. And there's little doubt that China will uproot the U.S. as "numero uno," though the anticipated hand-over date may be a decade more in the making.

Drilling down by region, however, the Asia Pacific ex-Japan designation should supplant the U.S. midway through the next presidential cycle. There's simply no doubting the role that countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and China play in reshaping the global GDP landscape.

True, there are famous studies that demonstrate a country's GDP is not necessarily correlated with its stock market performance. Yet high-octane companies in countries with healthy debt levels are bound to provide shareholder value over time. Moreover, their corporate bonds and country bonds should offer reasonable yield plus an exceptionally high probability of "the return of principal."

Why might it be important to talk about something as mundane as a probable return of principal? One look at the unsustainable debt levels in Greece, Portugal and Spain -- as well as the worldwide banks that are saddled with their debt instruments -- is enough to place a premium on Asian debt and Asian currencies.

Granted, investors still return to the yen, the greenback and U.S. treasuries on "get-out-of-my-way," risk-off trading sessions. The question is, though, for how much longer?

Bill Gross, kingpin at PIMCO, makes the case that the U.S. is worse off than Greece. Specifically, most of the debt discussions only incorporate $14.3 trillion in public debt. The number swells to $50 trillion when Social Security and Medicare obligations are included, and it may be closer to $75 trillion or $100 trillion when fully accounting for the bailout programs enacted in 2008 and 2009.

This is not Marty Weiss or Nouriel Roubini were talking about here. This is the bond king Bill Gross. And he wonders aloud, "Who's going to buy U.S. treasuries at these yields? Certainly not PIMCO."

Here are several fixed income alternatives that I am making room for in some of my client portfolios: 1. WisdomTree Asia Local Debt Fund ( (ALD) ). In five years time, the Asia ex-Japan current account surplus may double from $450 billion to $900 billion. The U.S.? Its current account deficit is expected to get worse.

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