Looking for a turnaround story? You can cross emerging markets off your list and keep on looking.
The Wall Street Journal this week reports that the selloff in emerging markets is accelerating in 2014, as investors "are bailing out of emerging markets from Turkey and Brazil to Thailand and Indonesia...amid concerns about faltering economies and political unrest."
Ruchir Sharma, head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management (MS) and author of Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, tells The Daily Ticker that he expects the curent EM trend to continue.
"Some of the big emerging markets are still going to drag the index down a bit before this thing clear up," he tells us in the video above.
(He does note that emerging markets now comprise 40% of the global economy. Therefore, referring to them as a basket is no longer that relevant because there are large differences among countries.)
This emerging market weakness may be bad for investors exposed to once hot acronyms like BRICs -- Brazil, Russia, India, and China -- but it's great for the average American.
Sharma explains that commodity prices -- which impact the prices people pay for everything from gasoline to food staples -- surged in the last decade because of incredible demand from the emerging markets, which were growing at a quick clip. As these economies cool down (particularly China), "that's keeping a lid on commodity prices so that's one big benefit for the U.S. consumer so far," he explains.
From an investing perspective, now that emerging market assets have been beaten up, you might wonder if there's an opportunity to buy stocks on the cheap. When you look at growth of these economies in aggregate, Sharma himself has pointed out that the pace has slowed from more than 7% in the middle of the last decade to 4% last year. That doesn't sound so bad.
But Sharma points out a problem: The 4% growth number is inflated by China, which grew 7.8% in the third quarter of 2013, for perspective. Without China, growth falls to 2.5% -- no different from the U.S.
Sharma also points to two big concerns for EMs looking ahead: nearly half of all democratic EMs have elections this year. Also, China is still the "800-pound gorilla of the EM space" with concerns over how the country can rein in debt and still achieve a soft landing. Just last week, George Soros warned of the global risk China poses.
Those looking for investing opportunities may want to look to Europe. That's where the big money is reportedly going and some market watchers now characterize Greece as an emerging market.
Can you guess which financial assets have performed better in the last six months -- Greek or U.S. stocks? Check the video above to find out the answer!
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- Ruchir Sharma