The pain in emerging markets is cutting into the performance of funds managed by some of the biggest names on Wall Street including BlackRock and T. Rowe Price, with some mutual funds already down 10% this year on falling stocks and currencies. As investors rush to pull more money out, how concerning is the emerging markets turmoil and how might it affect developed economies like the United States?
"Emerging markets are certainly in trouble," says Eswar Prasad, Cornell University professor and author of "The Dollar Trap: How the U.S. Dollar Tightned Its Grip on Global Finance." There is "big trouble ahead, but a crisis? I think not."
Prasad says Turkey and Argentina in particular are countries that are really susceptible to crises. Others like Brazil, India and South Africa -- which are vulnerable because of large current-account deficits, budget deficits, and political instability -- are going to have a rough patch. But he notes that things have really shifted over the last decade for emerging markets, which don't have as much external debt as they used to and possess lots of cash reserves.
In terms of what impact this turmoil has on the developed world, opinions differ. Economist Nouriel Roubini is warning of a tail risk to the global economy and Goldman Sachs says "what happens in emerging markets mostly stays in emerging markets."
Prasad says the emerging market weakness is "certainly not good for the U.S. economy." He says with these economies slowing, "the world is again going to be looking to the coattails of the U.S. to pull it along."
He asserts that the weaknesses in the rest of the world keeps the U.S. dollar stronger than it would otherwise be, which means fewer exports and fewer jobs here. While he acknowledges that it makes U.S. imports cheaper, he says it's not good for growth.
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- Eswar Prasad
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