David Evanson and Oliver Pursche
Forbes.com, Summer, 2012
You are probably sick of hearing about Europe. At the same time you might be, justifiably, scared to death of the implications emanating from the Continent.
I will spare you a lot of gory details about Europe, save other than to say that the possibilities of a double dip recession coupled with a Greek exit from the euro zone (by the way, in my 2012 stock market predictions I said Greece will begin discussions to exit the euro this year) may unleash a spasm on world credit and equity markets that will be very unpleasant for everyone, except those with the intestinal fortitude.
As an aside, J.P. Morgan’s bet on European debt could, disastrously, go even further south, which might offer some salve to investors still angry at banks for their role in the mortgage meltdown.
That said, if you are scared about what Europe may do to your portfolio, one way to insulate yourself is by investing in U.S. companies that have no overseas exposure.
Another approach to dampen your exposure to European fallout would be to invest in ETFs or mutual funds that invest utilities. There may be more to this than simply avoiding catastrophe. The dynamics behind the current low interest rate environment, suggest to me that low, low rate are here for the balance of this decade.
As such we no longer view bonds as a vehicle for generating income, but rather lowering volatility. So if you are seeking income, and relying on bonds, you might consider switching into utilities.
You are taking on more risk moving capital from debt to equities, but the reality of the interest rate environment we are operating in may make this assumption of risk a necessity, especially if inflation rears its’ head. One ETF I like is Vanguard Utilities Index (VPU), currently rated four stars by Morningstar.