This commentary originally appeared on Real Money Pro on Nov. 9 at 8:41 a.m. EST.
I believe that the events over the past year (especially in the eurozone) highlight the likelihood that the U.S. stock market will be favored among most other investment markets in the world.
The U.S. stock market has become the best house in a bad neighborhood for the following reasons:
- The U.S. economy, though sluggish in recovery relative to past expansions, is superior (with the exception of some emerging markets) to most of the world's economies in terms of diversity of end markets, quality of global franchises, management expertise, operating execution and financial foundations.
- Our banking industry's health, which is the foundation of credit and growth, is far better off than the rest of the world in terms of liquidity and capital. Our largest financial institutions raised capital in 2008-2009, a full three years ahead of the rest of the world. As an example, eurozone banks continue to delay the inevitability of their necessary raises.
- Our large corporations are better positioned than the rest of the world. Through aggressive cost cutting, productivity gains, external acquisitions, (internal) capital expenditures and the absence of a reliance on debt markets (most have opportunistically rolled over their higher cost debt), U.S. corporations are rock solid operationally and financially. Even throughout the 2008-2009 recession, most have solidified their global franchises that serve increasingly diverse end markets and geographies.
- An aggressive Fed (through its extended time frame of zero interest rate policy) has resulted in an American consumer that has reliquefied more than most areas in the world. Debt service and household debt is down dramatically relative to income.
- After watching regime after regime fall in Europe in recent weeks (and given the instability of other rulers throughout the Middle East), it should be clear that the U.S. is more secure politically and from a defense standpoint than most other regions of the world. Our democracy, despite all its inadequacies, has resulted in relatively balanced legislation and law that has contributed to social stability and a sense of order.
- Our regulatory and reporting standards are among the strongest in the world. Compare, for example, the opaque reporting and absence of regulatory oversight in China vs. the U.S.