Tide goes out for emerging assets

Emerging markets have become less appealing to investors as the Fed moves to curtail its money-printing programme.

Emerging markets slumped this week. Indonesia's stock market lost almost 10% in two days. Its currency, the rupiah, has hit a four-year low against the dollar. Thailand's SET stock index slid by over 3% on Monday as the economy fell into recession. India's currency, the rupee, fell to a record low against the greenback. Brazil's real has also fallen sharply this month.

What the commentators said

The prospect of tighter money, and eventually higher interest rates, in America as the Fed begins to ease up on its money-printing programme, makes risky emerging assets less appealing to yield-hungry investors. So, money has flowed out of developing markets. At the same time, emerging-market growth has ebbed. Indeed, said Ian King in The Times, for the first time since 2007, the developed nations will contribute more to global GDP growth this year than China, India and Brazil together.

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Growth and liquidity conceal a multitude of sins. Now that both have fallen, investors are noticing that there hasn't been as much progress on structural reforms as they would like, and they are also fretting about vulnerabilities that they were happy to ignore in good times.

Enter Indonesia and India with their gaping current-account deficits. This means they rely on foreign money to make ends meet and the danger is that much of it will leave now that the tide is going out for emerging assets. Five years after the global crisis rocked the rich world, it may now be emerging markets' turn, reckoned Stephen Jen of SLJ Macro Partners. "This could get serious."

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