While some of those folks have genuinely retired from the "baby boom" ranks, millions more have simply given up on the notion of providing for themselves. An astonishing 3.1 million people added themselves to Social Security disability, more than the 2.6 million new jobs added to payrolls in the same three years. How does this relate to exchange-traded funds and portfolio allocation? Simply stated, we won't get enough certainty about the future until after the November election. Sure, we can place bets based on polling data. We might try to sell S&P 1420 and buy at S&P 1280. However, few investors wish to trade within a narrow 10% band. If you've been paying attention to my columns for the last six months, then you already have a pretty keen idea where I have been making money on the
moderately conservative portion of the risk spectrum . This includes, but it is hardly limited to: diversified high-yield corporate bonds, emerging-market bonds, preferred shares, real estate investment trusts as well as dividend stocks. Even as the broader stock market indexes of the world struggle for direction, many of the my top holdings for clients keep hitting 52-week highs for total return. In diversified high yield, iShares High Yield Corporate ( HYG) remains a "fave." PowerShares Emerging Market Sovereign ( PCY) gets the nod for this asset class because it is dollar-hedged. There's little reason to look further than PowerShares Preferred ( PFF) if you're not comfortable picking individual securities. Dividend stocks? iShares High Dividend Equity ( HDV) will give you more exposure to health care, though Vanguard High Dividend Yield ( VYM) would be difficult to beat over time due to its cost structure. Finally, iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage REIT ( REM) has been a remarkable cash flow generator, in spite of Europe and perhaps because of it. You can listen to the ETF Expert Radio Show "LIVE", via podcast or on your iPod. You can follow me on Twitter @ETFexpert. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.