Why the discrepancy? Since the beginning of the year, the Chinese government has been hinting at stimulating its local economy. Helping the rising middle class after years of intolerable inflation gives hope to the local population and businesses that can invest on the Shanghai Exchange.
What's more, over the weekend, Premier Wen Jiabao explained that the central government will boost domestic consumption to promote steady and relatively fast economic growth. Wen added that it also intends to implement structural tax reductions to ease companies' financial burdens.
And there's more. China's foreign exchange regulator announced this weekend that it will allow more domestic securities in overseas funds. The demand for access to middle class consumption in China via the country's capital markets should be particularly vibrant at a time when China is turning toward growth/easing/stimulating.
Few investors can get anywhere near China's A shares, and most U.S. ETF investors must rely primarily on funds like iShares China 25 (FXI) and SPDR S&P China.Because of that, do China's announced policy initiatives still matter for U.S. investors? Yes. China's progrowth stance that has been years in the making should still be beneficial to all Chinese equities. Unfortunately, the export-laden GXC and FXI are inexorably tied to Europe. They cannot break free entirely if Europe itself isn't importing Chinese goods or if European banks aren't able to function. That said, China's commitments will give a boost to the global economy as well as to global confidence. A European "eurobond" solution could see GXC and FXI lead the emerging-market pack out of a two-year downtrend. And there's still one additional option. Market Vectors China (PEK) offers an indirect way to invest in local Chinese A-shares. PEK invests in a variety of derivative instruments to gain performance exposure, and it is indeed having some success at doing so. (Note: Like the Shanghai Index, PEK is up handsomely on the year.) You can listen to the ETF Expert Radio Show "LIVE", via podcast or on your iPod. You can follow me on Twitter @ETFexpert.