Today, the best international stock brokers can trade most major global stock markets with relatively low cost and hassle. Accessibility is no longer a big barrier to international investing for the adventurous private investor.
But there are still obstacles to building a global portfolio and the worst of these is probably information. Even though individuals can invest around the world, most don’t. Consequently, most investment magazines, newsletters and other resources are geared towards buying shares in your home market and using funds if you want to go abroad.
Institutional investors have access to all-round data feeds such Bloomberg and a steady of investment suggestions from brokers (often useless, but it’s a starting point). But few people market these kinds of services to private investors
The result is that international investors need to do much more legwork to come up with and research investment ideas than they might want. There’s no getting around that. But there are a handful of high quality resources that cater to individuals or are affordable to most. This article lists some of these best.
International investing news
Let’s begin with the very obvious. International investors require a good source of world political and investment news. The Financial Times is probably the world’s best daily newspaper for this purpose. It requires a subscription (£150-200 per year for online access, depending on discounts), but parts of the site are free, including the FT Alphaville and Beyond Brics commentary and a stock screener that covers a wide range of international markets.
The Economist is also an extremely useful way to keep up on news around the world, albeit one with a strong political bias that sometimes needs to be taken into account when assessing a story. Recent news is free, but the archive is subscription-only. About £120-150 gets you archive access and a weekly print copy.
Many investors will swear by the Wall Street Journal, although non-Americans often consider it too US-centric and in this writer’s opinion the quality of reporting is deteriorating. Online access is around $100.
The newswires Bloomberg and Reuters feed much of their reporting to their free websites as well as their terminals. This includes not just news but often excellent features, investigations and commentary.
Local newspapers are rarely especially useful for regular reading, because key news will usually be covered by one of the above sources and often done better and more impartially. But there are a handful of English-language publications that are worth reading for extra perspective.
In particular, Singapore’s Straits Times is useful for a non-Western take on regional and world news. Although subject to some censorship, Caixin Magazine is one of the best and most forthright sources for business, economics and finance news about China.
International investing ideas and recommendations
When it comes to sources for investment ideas, the line-up is much more limited. There aren’t many credible publications that take a genuinely international approach and are available to private investors.
One exception is the unique Fullermoney service. This daily email and website is part newsletter, part trading diary, part chart library, part research archive and part ongoing conversation with a well-informed set of readers. At £525 per year, it’s an extremely good deal for the amount of ideas and information it gives you.
Among the few newsletters that really delivers is Marc Faber’s Gloom Boom & Doom Report. It isn’t cheap, but it’s an excellent source of international investment ideas – some very unconventional – as well as thoughtful economic history and commentary (Faber is much more nuanced in print than he may seem to be in some of his TV appearances).
The site doesn’t quote an official subscription price for the full Gloom Boom & Doom Report (the much shorter monthly market commentary is around $300 per year) and different people seem to be paying different rates, but new subscribers should probably expect to pay something around $1,000 per year.
In terms of magazines, MoneyWeek is almost alone in taking a genuinely international approach to investing. (Disclosure: the main writer for this site sometimes contributes to MoneyWeek, although he gets no direct benefit from sales.) Costing around £75 per year, it combines a weekly summary of key news and comment with global investment recommendations.
International investing data and statistics
Getting international statistics often requires endless digging around national statistics websites that seem deliberately designed to stop anyone finding the data. And unfortunately, high-quality data feeds of the kind used by institutions are extremely expensive.
However, while subscriptions to Trading Economics are priced for institutions, it allows you to view recent data from many key series for free. It’s a very useful site if you want a five-year chart of Indonesian inflation or something awkward like that.
The World Bank, the IMF, the OECD, the Asian Development Bank and other multilateral institutions collate vast amounts of data, although working out which one has which series and what it’s filed under can sometimes be difficult.
Moody’s Dismal Scientist is sometimes recommended as an economic data and commentary service that isn’t cheap but might be cost-effective for some macro-focused individual investors. Subscriptions range from $560 per year for one region to $1,550 per year for global coverage.
Sources of price and fundamental data for international stock markets are discussed in more detail in this short guide to financial data providers.