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Where are the hot spots right now internationally?

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When a butterfly sneezes in Indonesia, a savvy portfolio manager in the United States had better be ready to say gesundheit.

We may not all be connected but our finances are. So, when clients want foreign investments where should advisors put their money?

Geopolitical risk comes as a result of political change or instability in a country. Cool Britannia loses its luster once the Brexit vote is tabulated.

As Daniel Kern, chief investment officer of Boston-based registered investment advisor TFC Financial Management sees it, “North Korea is one of the ‘big three’ of market risks I’m concerned about, alongside overzealous Fed[eral Reserve] policy tightening and a hard economic landing in China.”

“The risk in North Korea is that a verbal conflict between the leader of the ‘hermit kingdom’ and the American ‘tweeter-in-chief’ escalates into a military conflict,” Kern says.

“The unfortunate reality is that the U.S. has limited military options, given the proximity of North Korea to population centers in the south,” Kern says. “Kim [Jong-un, North Korea’s leader] is ruthless, and it is likely that he sees the country’s nuclear initiative as his personal insurance policy.”

Does disruption create opportunities?

“Disruption always creates new opportunities,” says Charlie Wilson, co-portfolio manager of the Thornburg Developing World Fund, who is eyeing opportunities in emerging markets for his clients.

Emerging markets have been on a tear in 2017, on their way to having their best year since they rose 75% in 2009.

Stocks in emerging markets rose 6.6 % in the third quarter, according to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

And by most accounts, emerging markets have plenty of room to move higher.

“Earnings revisions continue to trend upwards in most sectors,” Wilson says.

“While the overall valuation of the market has increased, it’s not too far above the long-term average multiples and well below developed market valuations,” he says. “In addition, many emerging markets are still recovering, which leaves plenty of room for continued positive earnings momentum.”

Lewis Altfest, a CFP and the president of Altfest Personal Wealth Management in New York, sees opportunities blossoming in China, Europe, South America and South Korea.

“China has momentum and is getting strong technologically,” he says. “The question is whether [President] Xi [Jinping] will tighten to cut back on mounting debt.”

The Communist Party of China recently elected Xi to a second five-year term as president.

Meanwhile, Altfest thinks that investing opportunities may be waning in Germany, Great Britain and Japan.

“Britain is mostly a British affair. Stay away from investing there at this time,” Altfest says.

This story is part of a 30-30 series on navigating the growing world of choices for client portfolios.

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