Not out of the 'woulds' yet

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

The Dow blows across 10000 like a cool, casual breeze....

The financial tigers in Asia start to purr again....

Could it be that the rock 'n' roll '90s will boogie on through the dawn of the next millennium?

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Maybe, but if the global machine seems well tempered again, beware the temper tantrums. The woods are full of "what would happen if"s.

Jim Tyson, for example, this week spotlights the Asian rebound, with special attention to Japan - supermodel of the 1980s; the financial equivalent of bell bottoms for the '90s.

But the thing to remember about Asia is that the trip from superstar to superslug happened overnight, before virtually anyone could double click on "sell."

Same with Russia, which the smart money had deemed fashionable, only to end up looking dumb and broke.

We can see some of the current crisis scenarios - e.g., what would happen if China devalued its currency? What would happen if the Kosovo conflict crept across borders to Western Europe?

But we can't see the others.

The point is, more financial crises will land in your lap. That's a promise. We live in an increasingly interconnected global economy, and as other countries edge or rush towards free-market reforms, their stumbles will trip up the rest of us.

The way to guard against them in your investment portfolio is through diversification. Consider buying shares in a nowhere-to-go-but-up Japan mutual fund, but not too many - perhaps 5 percent of the total. Or you might log on to some Internet funds, but keep the percentage low.

Stay wise, not greedy.

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