Stocktake: Can a global index be undiversified?

US stocks now comprise about 70% of the index, double the percentage in 1995

If you’re looking for global diversification, your best bet is the MSCI World index – right? Actually, it isn’t as global as one might think.

A recent Man Institute report notes US stocks now comprise about 70 per cent of the index, compared with 50 per cent in 2009 and just 35 per cent in 1995.

All other countries are minnows in comparison. Second-placed Japan accounts for less than 6 per cent of the index, followed by the UK (4.1 per cent), Canada (3.5 per cent) and France (3.1 per cent). Each is dwarfed by the combined weight of just three US technology companies (Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, which account for more than 10 per cent of the index).

The MSCI World is, as the Man Institute notes, “in danger of becoming a misnomer”.

Proinsias O'Mahony

Proinsias O'Mahony

Proinsias O’Mahony, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes the weekly Stocktake column