Carolyn Pairitz: The evolution of the ETF universe has spawned dozens upon dozens of innovative offerings that make it easy and cost-effective to tap into strategies and asset classes that were previously out-of-reach for mainstream investors, including global markets. When picking which countries to invest in, those with high employment rates may be an appealing option, as these economies often exhibit high productivity levels and lower poverty rates. Though some of these countries may not always be the first options that come to mind, their rather impressive track records certainly warrant a closer look by investors.
The following countries have some of the highest employment rates and offer a variety of ETF options for the global investor:
Oil and gas have not only made Qatar one of the highest per-capita income countries ($36152.67, almost 300% higher than the world average), but also home to the lowest unemployment rate in the world. Only 0.6% of the population (1.9 million people) are actively searching for a job. While energy is the keystone of this Middle Eastern economy, the government has taken expensive initiatives over the last 10 years to draw in foreign and domestic entrepreneurs in an effort to shift to a “knowledge based” economy.
- Market Vectors Gulf States Index (NYSEARCA:MES): This MidEast ETF is dominated by firms from Qatar, which makes up a third of the holdings, along with other publicly traded companies that are headquartered in countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council.
- Middle East Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:GULF): This fundamentally weighted fund focuses on companies in the Middle East region that pay regular cash dividends on shares of common stock, with companies from Qatar representing 28% of the total fund.
- MENA Frontier Countries Portfolio (NYSEARCA:PMNA): Making up a fifth of the funds, Qatar is one of many frontier markets represented in PMNA. Equities from Qatar also makes a minor dent in the MSCI Frontier 100 Index Fund (FM) and Frontier Markets ETF (NYSEARCA:FRN).
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This newly industrialized country has propelled itself and its 70 million citizens into the 21st century through huge investments in manufacturing of cars, computers, and exportable goods. The government has also made the further education of Thai youth a priority, resulting in an unemployment rate of only 0.63% and the number of skilled workers on the rise.
- MSCI Thailand Index Fund (NYSEARCA:THD): This ETF focuses soley on the performance of the Thai equity market, featuring a relatively low expense ratio of 62 basis points and over 80 holdings with a focus on financial services, energy, and basic materials.
- Beyond BRICs ETF (NYSEARCA:BBRC): This fund follows a market cap weighted index of 50 stocks from emerging markets around the world. Equities form Thailand represent 15% of the total fund, slightly less than Mexico, South Africa, and Malaysia.
- FTSE ASEAN 40 ETF (NYSEARCA:ASEA): By tracking the performance of the 40 largest companies from Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, this fund seeks to make sizable returns on emerging Asian market growth.
This Southeast Asian city state had only 27.6 million residents in 1963 when dividing from the United Kingdom, but since then has grown exponentially to a population of almost 70 million people on 63 islands, creating a dense emerging economy. With a current unemployment rate of 0.64%, most of the population works in either manufacturing or the service industry, as Singapore is not only home to hundreds of factories but also hotel/resorts that line its beaches.
- MSCI Singapore Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWS): This 16 year old fund measures the performance of the Singaporean equity market, focusing mostly on giant and large cap financial services firms [see also Can Anything Stop The Singapore ETF?].
- MSCI Singapore Small Cap Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWSS): Filling the void left by EWS, this relativly new fund follows a free float adjusted market cap weighted index and is designed to measure the performance of the smallest equity market capitalization comapnies in Singapore.
- FTSE ASEAN 40 ETF (NYSEARCA:ASEA): Like Thailand, Singapore is included in ASEA, making up 40% of this South Pacific fund, it is also makes up some of the Asia/Pacific Dividend 30 Index Fund (NYSEARCA:DVYA).
Written By Carolyn Pairitz From ETF Database Disclosure: No Positions
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