International portfolio diversification is often advocated as a way of enhancing portfolio performance particularly through the reduction of portfolio risk. Portfolio managers in Europe have for decades routinely invested a substantial portion of their portfolios in securities that were issued in other countries. During the last decade US investors have held a significant amount of foreign securities with over a trillion dollars invested in foreign assets by 1994. South African institutions have been allowed some freedom to diversify internationally since mid 1995 and individual investors since July 1997. In this paper the potential diversification benefits for South African investors are considered. The stability over time of the correlation structure is investigated and simple ex-ante investment strategies are formulated and evaluated.
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