When you're going to invest globally, one of the truly important things you must do is think.
I know, that's a "duh" kind of observation, but if you're going to take advantage of the opportunities afforded around the globe, you've got to remove yourself from your own cocoon in whatever country you happen to be in (and let's face it, for those of us in the United States, that's a really big cocoon), and think about what is happening in the growth economies around the globe.
I'll give you an example. It centers around a megatrend that I believe investors can get behind without taking the huge risks of cracking the nanotechnology code or divining the wiggles and waggles of consumer fancy in places like Beijing and Rio de Janeiro.
This one is much simpler.
It's money. As consumer economies in China, Mexico, India, Colombia, and so on grow at high rates, banks inevitably grow alongside them. That's where you can profit.
Many of the things that we consider to be basic tools of our everyday existence in the West are just gaining acceptance in these countries. The 30-year mortgage is the standard tool for financing home purchases in the U.S., but the banking sector in Mexico has only recently developed to the point where long-term mortgages at acceptable rates are widely available. When Felipe Calderon took office late last year, one of the things he pledged to do was grant 1 million mortgages in 2007. Sound low? It's a 30% increase over the country's record 760,000 in 2006.
Who benefits from this?
On some levels, it's a positive for every company in Mexico. But it's particularly positive for homebuilding giant Homex
Moreover, there's billions in home equity waiting to be tapped in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Poland, and India. Rapidly growing Indian bank HDFC
When I first traveled to Brazil in the 1980s, the rate of inflation exceeded 100% per month. Lending rates were totally usurious -- who in their right mind would lend something out, even at 50%-per-month interest rates, if that meant within a year the original amount would be worth next to nothing? Now, Banco Itau
But it won't just be the companies that provide the money that will benefit. From Tiffany
How do you take advantage?
At Global Gains, The Motley Fool's new international investing service, these are the trends we think about all the time. We have a huge mandate: Find value wherever it exists in the world. We address it by hitting the road -- as my team will do when we depart for India, China, and Taiwan on June 2. We'll talk to people, meet with companies, and do what is so hard to do when it comes to investing overseas (and let's be honest, investing in general): Get beyond generalities to find where real opportunities lie.
Interested in receiving all of our updates and recommendations live from the field? Let me know by sending an email to BillTrip@Fool.com.
Bill Mann is the lead advisor for Motley Fool Global Gains. At time of publication, he held none of the companies mentioned in this article. Cemex is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.