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Source: NCB Capital

Looking for light in emerging markets

The two years of economic turmoil have seen waves of confidence interspersed with moments of doubt about the role of emerging economies in the new global financial order. The initial phase of the crisis was marked by the ‘decoupling’ debate, when it seemed that emerging markets were largely immune to the troubles plaguing the housing and financial sectors in the West. A year into the crisis, this view was largely abandoned when declining trade volumes and financial flows, along with a precipitous drop in commodity prices, threatened to plunge the emerging economies too into a deep crisis. A year on, the view is much more nuanced. With the domestic drivers of economic growth generally resilient, the growing market optimism that has supported commodities and trade has once again moved the consensus in favor of an emerging markets-led recovery.

While far from immune to the turmoil, emerging economies have significantly outperformed their Western counterparts during the crisis. In fact, the Asian ‘tigers’ have rebounded from the sharp fall in growth rates seen late last year and now appear to be recovering much faster than the rest of the world. Led by China’s GDP impressive 7.9% YoY in 2Q-09, other regional economies have picked up steam. Singapore’s GDP grew at an annualized 20.7% rate in 2Q-09 while South Korea’s GDP expanded 10% YoY, led by a 14% increase in consumer spending. The emerging equity markets mirrored the broad trend, with MSCI’s Emerging Market index returning an impressive 48% in the first eight months of the year.

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