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The Performance of International Equity Portfolios

Charles P. Thomas, Francis E. Warnock and Jon Wongswan
IIIS Discussion Paper No. 162 This paper evaluates the ability of U.S. investors to allocate their foreign equity portfolios across 44 countries over a 25-year period. We find that U.S. portfolios achieved a significantly higher Sharpe ratio than foreign benchmarks, especially since 1990. We test whether this strong performance owed to trading expertise or longer-term allocation expertise. The evidence is overwhelmingly against trading expertise. While U.S. investors did abstain from momentum trading and instead sold past winners, we find no evidence
that these past winners subsequently underperformed. In addition, conditional performance measures, which directly test reallocating into (out of) markets that subsequently outperformed (underperformed), suggest no
significant trading expertise. In contrast, we offer strong evidence of
longer-term allocation expertise: If we fix portfolio weights at the end of 1989 and do not allow reallocations, we still find superior performance in the recent period. Keywords: momentum, contrarian, conditional performance measures, equities, home bias
JEL Classification: G11, G12, F21

Last updated 28 August 2014 by IIIS (Email).