There have been plenty of times in American history when it seemed as if the promise of our nation might wither. Think Valley Forge, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and the "crisis of confidence" in the 1970s -- times when our values and our hope for a better tomorrow were in serious question. In each instance, it was those very same American values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that restored us and set us back on the right path.
Now our country is once again faced with substantial economic challenges -- we're recovering from our debt binge of the past decade, figuring out what to do about rapidly approaching government entitlement programs for the baby boomer generation, and of course, searching for an answer to the housing problem.
You know the story
These are obviously serious issues, and investors are expressing their concern in their portfolios: A Morningstar report recently found that large-cap U.S. stock funds had outflows of $11.2 billion in the first five months of 2009. This figure in isolation doesn't sound terrible, but it's made all the worse when you consider that this exodus is on top of $52 billion yanked out in 2008, and that inflows of $4.9 billion went into emerging market funds over the same five-month period.
Put simply, the markets seem to have lost confidence in American companies and are smitten with the enormous potential offered in the developing world.
Look, I know that despite some promising economic reports of increased savings rates and moderating home prices, we're still far from out of the woods. There's still much work left to be done. I'll also admit that the contrasting image of a creditor-nation like China, with its seemingly endless growth potential, is alluring.
But when it comes to investing, we must remember that price is what you pay, and value is what you get. Sure, China may have a larger growth opportunity than the U.S., but how much of those high expectations are already priced into Chinese stocks?
Consider that as of the end of May, the ETF provider iShares reported that its iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index
Back the more consistent horse
Emerging-market companies may very well justify high expectations with superior earnings growth, but if they don't live up to their billing, they could give investors a very bumpy ride. For my money, I'd rather buy into one of the three aforementioned U.S. multinationals -- all of which, by the way, generate at least 40% of their revenues from overseas, are trading near their lowest valuations in over a decade, and offer dividend yields that are well-supported by earnings and cash flow.
They may not be the sexiest investments in the market, but at these prices, they're poised to be solid investments for years to come. While your fellow investors are piling into riskier markets, it'd be wise to give American stocks like these another look.
Using history as a guide, there's absolutely no reason to believe that the sun is setting on America. We've faced and overcome tougher challenges in the past. We'll get through this one, too. It's time to buy American again.
Do you think that it’s time to buy American again? Let me know in the comments section below.
Fool analyst Todd Wenning owns shares of Procter & Gamble, which is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick along with Johnson & Johnson. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. CNOOC is a Motley Fool Global Gains selection. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble and has a disclosure policy.