Let's speculate for a moment and say you could go back to 2009 and invest $10,000 in the stock market. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the U.S. stock market went on to post year after year gains. In fact, after a relatively short five years, you'd be sitting on just over $28,400 today.
Unfortunately, we don't have a time machine. But we may have found the next best thing. All we have to do is look to Europe. The exact same conditions that led to the furious bull market in the U.S. are setting up across the pond today.
The financial crisis of 2008-2009 turned out to be the worst recession in nearly 80 years.
We saw the collapse of banks, the bursting of a real estate bubble and plummeting stock prices around the world. Nothing was spared.
In the U.S., the Federal Reserve acted quickly. The central bank cut the federal funds rate to zero and rolled out the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), designed to step in and save the banking sector by doling out $700 billion in taxpayer dollars. It also began purchasing billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities and treasuries. And after the Fed decided the economy wasn't growing robustly enough, it continued to keep interest rates near zero and buy even more bonds.
While we may not fully support every move the Fed has made since the financial crisis, it's clear that its actions have been a boon for U.S. stocks.
As these events unfolded over the next 5 years, the U.S. stock market went on a tear. Since bottoming out in March of 2009, the S&P 500 has returned a remarkable 185%, or an annual return of over 24%.
But while the U.S. central bank acted quickly to counter the effects of the Great Recession... Europe languished.
Up until recently, austerity was the name of the game for much of Europe. Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain faltered under heavy debt loads and high unemployment. Meanwhile, relatively healthy countries like Germany weathered the storm and demanded that its eurozone counterparts enact measures to cut spending and get their respective houses in order.
As you can see from the chart below, Europe has not only been lagging the U.S. market -- it's still 27% below its 2007 levels:
This isn't great news for Europe, but for investors it is -- especially those who missed the boat for the U.S. bull market. You see, policymakers in Europe have recently changed their tune. And conditions are ripe for much of Europe to repeat the same kind of incredible run that happened in the U.S.
Here's what Michael Vodicka, Chief Strategist for StreetAuthority's High-Yield International newsletter, told his subscribers about Europe's recent moves:
Last week the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it would cut the rate on overnight bank deposits with the central bank to -0.1%, essentially charging banks for excess cash reserves parked with the ECB. This sets an important precedent because it's the first time in the history of modern central banking that banks will be charged for deposits. It also provides a strong incentive for banks to lend more money and build their loan portfolios, increase dividend payments and buy shares back.
The ECB also cut its primary lending rate to a record low of 0.15% from 0.25%, providing eurozone commercial banks with an additional source of low-cost capital that is expected to approach $500 billion.
ECB President Mario Draghi also made it clear that the central bank has more work to do, adding that broad-based asset purchases similar to the U.S.'s quantitative easing program remain an option.
These bold policy initiatives from one of the world's most powerful central banks are good for both economic growth and global stock markets.
The key question here is, "why is the ECB taking a chapter out of the Fed's book after five years of dithering on policy?" The answer, Mike argues, is simple: Japan.
If you remember back to 1989, the Japanese economic miracle was at its pinnacle...things were looking bright. That soon turned into a nightmare, however, when its real estate bubble burst. And nearly 25 years later, the country still hasn't fully recovered.
In fact, Mike points out that, from 1995 to 2012, Japan's GDP grew from $5.3 trillion to just $6 trillion. And even after a 50% rally in the past 12 months, the benchmark Japanese Nikkei stock index remains more than 60% below its all-time high. Wages and real-estate prices remain well below all-time highs as well.
Here's more from Mike:
All factors considered, Japan hasn't been able to regain its mojo after its economic and real-estate implosion -- commonly referred to as Japan's "lost decades." And the consensus among economists is that Japan's Central Bank is to blame.
That opinion is based on the Bank of Japan's virtually non-existent response to the country's economic crisis. For most of the 1990s, while the Japanese economy languished, the Bank of Japan failed to react. By the time the Bank of Japan got around to juicing its economy with direct capital injections in the late 1990s, it was too late --- consumer confidence had already been crushed.
Modern central bankers believe Japan's extended recession could have been avoided if the Bank of Japan had reacted much sooner and taken more aggressive policy measures to stimulate inflation.
Mike says that Japan's weak response to the crisis is what every central bank in the world is trying to avoid right now -- especially the ECB. He also says, "These bold policy initiatives from one of the world's most powerful central banks are good for both economic growth and global stock markets."
This is especially true for investors who follow Mike's recommendations in High-Yield International. Many of the stocks Mike features in his newsletter are based in Europe, including a U.K.-based bank that yields nearly 5%. It's one of the best-capitalized banks in the world, and has been rallying with the broader European markets after the ECB's recent announcement. And as Mike points out, even his holdings that aren't based in Europe should benefit from the announcement, as additional liquidity injected into the market should support better growth in both Europe and globally.
The bottom line is that Mike is more excited about his portfolio than ever before. And his readers should be, too. International income investors are in the right place at the right time to generate outsized capital gains while also collecting some of the best and safest dividends in the world.
Editor Note: If you haven't considered investing in international dividend payers, then consider this: According to our research, there are about 93 companies paying yields above 12% outside the U.S. -- compared to just 25 in the U.S. And we've found nearly a thousand companies abroad that pay yields above 6%. The point is, if you're only looking at U.S. markets, you're missing out on some of the best, safest and highest yielding opportunities the market has to offer. To learn more about our research and get started on finding higher yields abroad, see this special report.