The stock market in the United States has performed very well since the fall of 2002, when the sell-off started by the bursting of the Internet bubble and accelerated by Sept. 11 and the 2001 recession finally came to an end.
Since then, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is up nearly 60 percent, a strong gain that the Bush administration has pointed to as reflecting an economic recovery brought on by tax cuts.
But looked at internationally, the American bull market appears less impressive. Searching stock markets around the world, there appear to be only four that have performed worse ” when measured in dollars ” than the American market over that period. They are the markets in Botswana, Malaysia, Slovenia and China, with the latter being the only market to show a decline.
At first glance, it seems odd that the two countries that have been the engines of global growth in the period, China and the United States, should be laggards. But there are explanations. The Chinese market has gained an unfortunate reputation for a lack of effective investor protection, and the best-quality companies in China are more likely to list their shares in Hong Kong, New York or London.