Emerging markets are… still emerging markets

by: Marijke Zewuster

Emerging markets have recently lost some of their shine. Disappointing growth rates have led to downward revisions of forecasts, and concerns about structural weaknesses are escalating. Stock markets have not been doing well for over two years and, recently, exchange rates have been under considerable pressure, partly due to fears about the effects of a less accommodating monetary policy in the United States. For years, emerging markets have benefited from the commodities boom that intensified thanks to uninterrupted growth in China. The resulting economic growth ensured that both government and external debt in emerging markets was further reduced and made these countries more resistant to external shocks. As a result, they long seemed immune to the economic problems of the industrialised nations. However, now that the commodities boom seems to have passed its peak, the growth model is beginning to show cracks that are being deepened by developments in the US and Europe. Although our growth estimates remain reasonably optimistic, in line with more favourable prospects for the US and Europe, there are real risks as well. These include the dangers of increasing external imbalances as a result of weaker foreign capital inflows, the chance of a stronger fall in Chinese growth, a lack of necessary reforms and political unrest.