In uncertain  times, people engage in the time-honored tradition of “flight to quality.” U.S. investors are forgoing riskier assets like emerging market exchange traded funds (ETFs), and instead are sticking to the “safety” of government bonds and gold.

According to Blackrock, European investors have thrown $3.25 billion into emerging-market ETFs in the first four months of the year while U.S. investors have slowed investment inflows to just $1.5 billion, compared to $27 billion for the whole of 2009, writes Alex Dumortier for The Motley Fool .

Asset manager GMO calculates that emerging market stocks will earn an annualized after-inflation return of 4.7% over the next seven years. Though, that number is 2% less than the long-term historical real return of 6.5% in U.S. stocks, and emerging markets are also associated with higher volatility. [How to Mitigate Market Volatility With ETFs.]

Investors are leaning toward “safe haven” assets while the market corrects and until a more firm recovery makes itself apparent, it’s a trend that could be in place for the short-term.

Vanguard Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) and iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ETF (NYSEArca: EEM) are about 7% below their 200-day moving averages.

For more information on the ETF investing, visit our ETF 101 category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.