Thinking Outside the Box

How do we measure the world? Thinking only in terms of landmass can distort investment decisions. Directly comparing the markets of nations produces some surprising results. Measures such as population, gross domestic product, or exports do not directly indicate the size or suitability of investments in a market.

This cartogram illustrates the balance of equity investment opportunities around the world. The size of each country has been adjusted to reflect its total relative capitalization. (A country’s equity market capitalization, or market cap, reflects the total value of shares issued by all publicly traded companies and is calculated as share price times the number of shares outstanding.)

Of course, the world is in motion—there is no fixed relationship between markets, and their proportion can change over time. Viewing the world this way brings the scope of diversification into new light and helps clarify allocation decisions.

World Equity Market Capitalization

As of December 31, 2013


In US dollars. Market cap data is free-float adjusted from Bloomberg Securities Data. Many nations not displayed. Totals may not equal 100% due to rounding. For educational purposes; should not be used as investment advice. China market capitalization excludes A-shares, which are generally only available to mainland China investors. 1. An example large cap stock provided for comparison.

G Disain