Build the Global Market Portfolio With ETFs

Let's make an asset allocation for Earth! In the near future, an alien galactic civilization will want to know the compound return for Earth. Well, here it is!
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What is the Global Market portfolio?

The Global Market Portfolios can be built with 10-15 ETFs. They are exposed to 70% equities and 30% bonds. They are medium-risk portfolios.

For the past 10 years, the The Global Market Portfolio, Financial Engines 2007 has returned 8.14 with a standard deviation of 10.97. The dividend yield is 1.89. The 30-year return is 8.55%. Year to date the The Global Market Portfolio, Financial Engines 2007 has returned 7.08%%.

What is the historical return of the Global Market portfolio?

Below you can see the historical return of the global market portfolios.

NameAsset class countYear to dateReturn in 202010 year returnCAGR since 1989 (%)Risk levelExpense ratio
The Global Market Portfolio, (GMP) CREDIT SUISSE83.41%11.837.638.4610.10%
The Global Market Portfolio, Financial Engines 2007157.08%11.528.148.5520.08%

How do the Global Market portfolios compare to the best portfolios?

Below you can see the returns of the best portfolios that we have benchmarked.

NameSee PortfolioYear to dateReturn in 202010 year returnCAGR since 1989 (%)Draw Down
Premium Portfolio15.92%18.2913.8410.77-37.63%
Premium Portfolio8.30%18.118.6311.14-44.87%
Premium Portfolio13.48%19.712.8410.49-32.77%
Premium Portfolio20.78%3.198.5210.59-36.46%
Premium Portfolio20.17%3.668.6210.48-36.35%
Premium Portfolio15.18%21.0313.7810.83-37.00%
Premium Portfolio19.24%8.711.5610.65-35.26%
Premium Portfolio15.41%7.488.3910.64-37.91%
Premium Portfolio16.16%5.3610.8811.23-35.43%
Premium Portfolio20.81%3.4210.2110.47-40.85%

Both portfolios are excellent. They have massive diversification and low drawdowns.

What is The Global Market Portfolio?

The Global Market portfolio is the weighted sum of every asset in the world.

This definition includes:

  • All publically tradeable stocks from all countries.
  • All privately held stock from all countries including think start-ups, private equity.
  • All types of corporate bonds from all countries.
  • All types of government bonds from all countries.
  • All types of real estate from all countries.
  • Land ownership from all countries including timber and grasslands.

This sounds easy enough but it becomes difficult to contain that definition when reality hits.

How finely granular do we measure assets?

Here are a few questions to put this difficult task into perspective.

  • What constitutes assets in the first place?
  • Does it include intangibles like trademarks?
  • Does it only include investable assets? What does that even mean?
  • Does it include private equity as well?
  • Does it include human capital?

What is the return of Earth?  

No matter how you look at making a Global Market portfolio you need to set up boundaries of what you include and what you exclude from the Global Market portfolio.

However, it is a market portfolio so the assets in the portfolio need to be accessible on some market.

We could hand over the definition to a certified accountant. They usually have a knack for cutting out the fluff with a clean cut. Maybe an accountant would say that anything that can generate a return and can be bought and sold should be considered into the Global Market portfolio. But not everything that can generate a return can be bought and sold and not everything that can be bought and sold generates a return!

Why not just invest along the weightings of the global market-cap-weighted portfolio? The main difficulty of this is that it is hard to determine exactly what the exact weightings are, but a number of researchers have come pretty close with a ballpark estimate.

The accountants’ version of how to construct a Global Market portfolio is probably as close as we are going to get a picture of what a Global Market Portfolio looks like. If it were just a Global Portfolio a better way would be to put a price on the entire globe. On the entire Earth.

Let’s imagine a galactic civilization. This civilization of space-faring aliens trades planets like stocks just like we share companies’ stock. Each planet is an asset that hopefully generates a return. How much would the Earth be worth? How much would Earth be worth in the future?

What is the return of Earth?  

We’ll back off from discussing what return means in the context of galactic aliens because that is an entirely new and abstract discussion.

The Global Market portfolio changes over time as illustrated below.

global-market-portfolio-changes
Source: Doeswijk et. al.

Let’s get practical now and see some actual portfolios.

Description of the Global Market portfolio

The 2008 book The Intelligent Portfolio: Practical Wisdom on Personal Investing from Financial Engines by Christopher L. Jones presents a Global Market portfolio.

Financial Engines is now called Edelman Financial Engines. It has $200 billion under management (2020).

Christopher L. Jones is the CIO at Financial Engines.

The portfolio presented is from the vantage point of a U.S.-based investor. This means that the U.S. portion of assets is much more broken down. It has small-caps and mid-cap caps for example. For international assets, they are lumped into a few categories like Europe and the Pacific.

The Global Market portfolio from Credit Suisse is more condensed. It is presented in Meb Faber’s book Global Asset Allocation: A Survey of the World’s Top Asset Allocation Strategies.

His source is from Credit Suisse, Global Wealth Databook 2014.

What is the asset allocation for the Global Market portfolio?

The Global Market Portfolio, (“GMP”) Credit Suisse

This portfolio is part of Portfolio Einstein Gold, Premium Portfolios.

The Global Market Portfolio, Financial Engines 2007      

  • 13.00%  US Large Cap Value (VTV)
  • 13.10%  US Large Cap Growth (VUG)
  • 3.70%    US Mid Cap Value (JKI)
  • 3.70%    US Mid Cap Growth (IJK)
  • 1.80%    US Small Cap Value (VIOV)
  • 1.80%    US Small Cap Growth (IJT)
  • 2.40%    Emerging Markets (VWO)
  • 8.10%    Pacific Stocks (VPL)
  • 15.80%  European Stocks (VGK)
  • 1.10%    Long-Term Treasuries (TLT)
  • 5.30%    Intermediate-Term Treasuries (VGIT)
  • 6.20%    Total US Bond Market (BND)
  • 2.60%    Cash (money market fund) (BIL)
  • 3.40%    Corporate Bonds (LQD)
  • 18.00%  Non-US Bonds (BNDX)

Here is how we select the right ETFs

There are a lot of ETFs! It is laborious work to sift through hundreds and hundreds of ETFs just to find the right one, but it is worth it!

Finding the right and BEST ETF could earn you a lot more money than number two.

We have carefully selected an ETF for each asset class that the portfolios on portfolioeinstein.com use. If you want to read more about our selection process and see what we consider the best ETFs please visit our article What Is The Best ETF?

If you are a European investor you need to buy European ETFs. We have listed 47 of the best ETFs in our article What Are The Best ETFs For European Investors? (Here Is 47).

As of 2021 we also track socially responsible investing ESG portfolios. Socially responsible investing (ESG) portfolios prioritize investing that puts an emphasis on environmental, social, and corporate governance issues.

You can find the socially responsible investing ESG ETFs in the same article.

Resources for the Global Market portfolio

Get a primer on what a Global Market portfolio is from the paper Historical Returns of the Market Portfolio.

Read about global allocation from Meb Faber’s excellent book Global Asset Allocation: A Survey of the World’s Top Asset Allocation Strategies.

Find out how to predict future returns (I’d like to do that!) in the book The Intelligent Portfolio: Practical Wisdom on Personal Investing from Financial Engines.

If you really want to impress clients, friends, and family you should pick up the fabulous Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns. It is a beautiful and fascinating dictionary-like tome. It contains historical investment returns for almost all countries of the world. It is updated each year by Credit Suisse. Warning: It is expensive!

Suggestions for your next steps

Finding the correct portfolio is hard. Maintaining your portfolio is also daunting. If you are still in doubt about which portfolio to choose, we suggest you read our article How To Invest Money: 5 Simple Steps That Work For Anyone

If you have already committed to a portfolio – good for you! If you need help maintaining the portfolio you will find our rebalance worksheet useful. Rebalancing your portfolio lowers your risk and may provide higher returns in the long run. It is completely FREE.

You can find the rebalance worksheet in our article Here Is The Most Easy To Use Portfolio Rebalance Tool.

Rebalancing lowers your portfolio risk and may increase your returns.


If you want access to our high-performing portfolios then you need to take a look at the premium portfolios. This is a paid product that gives you the 59 best-performing portfolios since 1989. The portfolios represent a great opportunity for you to have a shot at increasing the returns of your portfolio.

Portfolioeinstein Premium Portfolios

Related questions

How much of a portfolio should be international?

Approximate 45% of all the world’s stocks are international. The USA stock market accounts for 55% of all the world’s stock capitalization.

Should I own international stocks?

Yes, you should at least have 10-20% international stocks. However, John Bogle founder of Vanguard noted that about 30% of revenue from American companies is collected from overseas trade. John Bogle hereby suggested that you are diversified internationally if you hold American companies. 

What are the types of portfolio investment?

The most important types of portfolio investments are stocks, bonds, and REITs (real estate). Your portfolio typically contains more stocks than bonds.

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