Emerging Markets: Emerging No More?

Courtesy of The Economist, an excellent article on how – a year after the West’s slump began to spread to emerging markets – it has become clear that the recession has been a moment of tectonic slippage, a brief but powerful acceleration in the deep-seated movement of economic power away from rich nations towards emerging markets..  As the report notes:

“…At the start of 2010 there are indeed a billion hungry people, for the first time in 40 years. But the other forecasts now look excessively gloomy. Whereas the last three months of 2008 saw one disaster after another, the end of 2009 was a period of healthy recovery, as measured by capital, bond and stockmarkets.

During 2009 the largest developing-country stockmarkets recouped all the losses they had suffered during 2008 (see table). October 2009 saw the largest monthly inflow into emerging-market bond funds since people started tracking the numbers in 1995. Russia’s central bank estimated that the country would attract $20 billion of capital inflows during the fourth quarter, compared with capital outflows of $60 billion in the first nine months. The IIF now reckons that net private capital flows to developing countries will more than double in 2010 to $672 billion (still a long way below their peak). So much new money is flooding into emerging markets that calls for capital controls are echoing around the developing world.

This craze for emerging-market paper could perhaps prove a bubble. But as a measure of reputational change, it is accurate. Countries that were disaster zones at the start of 2009 achieved gold-rush status by the end of it. This turnaround reflects a resilient economic performance during the recession. It also reflects a stunning degree of political and social cohesion…

…Since 2007, according to Goldman Sachs, the biggest emerging markets—Brazil, Russia, India and China—have accounted for 45% of global growth, almost twice as much as in 2000-06 and three times as much as in the 1990s. It used to be said that although emerging markets were contributing an expanding share of world growth, they could not claim to be the real engine for the global economy because final demand for their exports lay in America. But that argument is weaker now that China has overtaken America as the main market for the goods of the smaller Asian exporters. The recession showed that economic power is leaching away from the West faster than was thought.Previous recessions have left most developing countries with their reputations for economic management in tatters, and with credibility to regain in capital markets. This time, it is the rich whose reputations have been damaged. The fiscal response of many emerging markets has enhanced their credibility, and they find themselves with an unexpected reputation for fiscal prudence. The debt-to-gdp ratio of the 20 largest emerging markets is only half that of the top 20 rich nations. Over the next few years rich countries’ debt will rise further, so emerging markets’ indebtedness will be only one-third of theirs by 2014. Already there are signs that financial markets are rewarding them for good behaviour. Sovereign-risk spreads have been lower in the biggest emerging markets than in some euro-zone countries; in 2009, Hong Kong did more initial-public offerings than New York or London.

At the start of the crisis, a Mexican minister sighed: “At least this time it’s not our fault.” The comment was laden with sad irony: like everyone else, he expected that Mexico’s innocence would make no difference and that emerging markets would be hammered anyway. But they have not been. So far the story of global recession in emerging markets has had that rarest of themes: virtue rewarded.”

This entry was posted on Monday, January 4th, 2010 at 6:08 am and is filed under Uncategorized.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

Comments are closed.

Wildcats & Black Sheep is a personal interest blog dedicated to the identification and evaluation of maverick investment opportunities arising in frontier - and, what some may consider to be, “rogue” or “black sheep” - markets around the world.

Focusing primarily on The New Seven Sisters - the largely state owned petroleum companies from the emerging world that have become key players in the oil & gas industry as identified by Carola Hoyos, Chief Energy Correspondent for The Financial Times - but spanning other nascent opportunities around the globe that may hold potential in the years ahead, Wildcats & Black Sheep is a place for the adventurous to contemplate & evaluate the emerging markets of tomorrow.