John DeGoey is vice-president and associate portfolio manager at Burgeonvest Bick Securities. His focus is on personal finance and ETFs.
iShares Global Infrastructure Index Fund
Global Infrastructure is likely one of the safer ways to get exposure to hard assets today. It is also a good way to get exposure to things Canada produces without investing in Canada.
iShares Broad Commodity Index Fund
Broad commodities are a long-time favourite of mine. This is also a product with a global mandate and considerable diversification benefits.
iShares Global Agriculture Index Fund
As world population grows and farmland is lost to urbanization, the thesis for the long-term appreciation of agricultural commodities is particularly compelling.
Past picks: Feb. 27, 2012
Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets Index ETF
Total return: +2.68 per cent
Vanguard MSCI U.S. Broad Market Index ETF
Total return: +13.13 per cent
Vanguard MSCI EAFE Index ETF
Total return: +13.26 per cent
Total return average: +9.69 per cent
No one can reliably forecast market moves or time the changes in market sentiment. Still, my view is that tangible assets are attractive for long-term investors because they have seen weakness over the past few quarters and are excellent diversifiers (weakly correlated) for people holding traditional stock positions. Investors should focus on buying these within an asset allocation suitable for them and re-balancing the mix as circumstances warrant. They should use products that are cost effective, tax-effective (i.e., have a low turnover) and broadly diversified. The time and money spent in picking stocks, picking actively managed mutual funds and timing market movements is almost certain to be wasted, but a reasonable exposure to tangible assets should assist in improving risk-adjusted returns.