Re: Stock Market -- What stage of the business cycle and what is in demand?
If you want to market time by market segment, because of the limitations in evaluation fund valuations, it seems like you should just find the segments that have done the worst over the last year and/or few years. Of course, that isn't international (or anything else for that matter).
One fundamental problem with fund investing IMHO is that it's much harder to get a handle on the underlying data for your fund and therefore harder to value. You can find a P/E on most (although you have to figure out if that's trailing, current or forward earnings) and a dividend yield and maybe a piece or two of other data, but it's hard to find data like the P/B, debt levels, ROE/ROC/ROA, cash flow, etc. And when you do find it it's harder to put any trust the data IMHO because: (1) we all know how mass data collection gets screwed up sometimes, and (2) the companies are in so many different industries that some of the data becomes meaningless because it needs to be compared within a particular industry (i.e. book values matter for banks, FFO matters for REITS in lieu of earnings, it's expected that utilities will have a lot more debt, etc.)
So, if you're an asset allocator, I figure unless things are totally out of whack, you set the percentages and move on because you can't look at fine differences in valuations when comparing funds.