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Are Emerging Markets Decoupling from the Developed World?

Investors should check out the facts before rushing to believe

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Our generation has seen and heard its fair share of bunk economic theories. These are high-sounding theories that often are touted by recognized investors or higher learning institutions — and for that reason, they mostly remain unchallenged. At the top of the list is economic decoupling between emerging and developed countries.

How have emerging market countries fared this year? Is there any evidence they are decoupling from the rest of the world? And how can investors make informed and profitable investment decisions in this particular category? Read on:

Emerging Markets

Countries that are in the midst of rapid business growth and industrialization generally are referred to as “emerging markets.” With a combined population of almost 2.5 billion people, China and India are among the largest emerging-market countries.

The theory behind economic decoupling is that emerging-market countries can prosper and remain unaffected by adverse financial conditions elsewhere — particularly by the adverse financial conditions of developed countries such as the U.S. Decoupling has been heavily promoted during the past several years, especially by academic types in the mainstream press.

While decoupling might sound like a plausible idea, the performance for emerging-market stocks this year doesn’t support that view.

The Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSE:VWO) is down more than 19% year-to-date compared to lower-to-flat performance by the Schwab U.S. Broad Market ETF (NYSE:SCHB) and a 14% loss for developed stocks — Vanguard MSCI EAFE ETF (NYSE:VEA).

What about mega emerging-market countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China? As a group, BRIC country stocks — represented by the SPDR S&P BRIC 40 (ETF) (NYSE:BIK) — are down almost 19% since the beginning of the year.

The iShares S&P India Nifty 50 Index Fund (NASDAQ:INDY), Market Vector Russia ETF Trust (NYSE:RSX) and iShares MSCI Brazil Index (ETF) (NYSE:EWZ) are in bear market territory, down between 20% to 40% in value. Based upon the stock market’s performance, the theory of economic decoupling isn’t holding up, and neither is the argument of a soft landing.

Slowing Growth

The high-octane growth from emerging countries that analysts have been preaching is not as high or as fast as previously thought. China’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI) for November were a big disappointment. The year-over-year results were weaker than projected.

CPI was ahead just 4.2% compared to 5.5% in November 2010, and PPI for the same period was 2.7% compared to 5%. Also, declines in both China’s CPI and PPI were worse than what economists were projecting.

CPI measures the changes in the price of goods and services bought by consumers, while PPI measures the changes in the price of goods and services sold by producers.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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