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Street Smart Betting On Stocks Down Under
When U.S. investors diversify globally, they typically buy international or regional mutual funds or shares in companies based in Europe, China, Japan, or maybe Mexico or Brazil.
James K. Glassman

But there’s a great big world out there, including countries that have strong and consistent growth, an energetic and imaginative population, thriving businesses, and robust trade unthreatened by tit-for-tat tariff battles.

One of the best of these markets is Australia, which is now in its 29th consecutive year of annual economic growth (the U.S. is in its 11th). On my first and only visit, my reaction was, “Wow, this place is more American than America!” What I meant was that Australia’s robust, free economy was working even better than our own. Australia ranks fifth among 180 countries on the Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, judged by such criteria as property rights, tax burden and government integrity (the U.S. is 12th). Australia’s budget will show a slight surplus this year, according to an estimate by the Economist Intelligence Unit (the U.S. faces a deficit of 4.7% of gross domestic product). Australia has no estate tax, and its public pension system puts our Social Security system to shame by investing in real assets rather than building up huge liabilities for future generations.

Australia is a major trading nation— the number-one exporter of coal, iron ore and wool, and the number-two exporter of liquefied natural gas and beef. The trade war between the U.S. and China might benefit Australia—for example, as a substitute source of farm goods for Chinese consumers.

Australia’s median wealth and GDP per adult are nearly the same as those of the U.S. and far ahead of Germany, France and the U.K. With a population of 25 million (fewer than Texas has), the country’s economy ranks 13th in size globally, with GDP of $1.4 trillion. That’s just behind South Korea, which has more than twice as many people.

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October 2019

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