A Bitter Pill for Emerging Markets

cloudsSovereign wealth funds have opened their enlarged ears on Ben Bernanke’s spoken words – the word tapering. Central bank actions have contributed volatility in government bond yields which has stressed public investors. A gradual withdrawal of excess liquidity would stem the tide of hot money flowing to emerging markets. This is a wake-up call for institutional investors that have significant exposure to emerging markets. Sovereign funds like Temasek Holdings and Singapore’s GIC have made huge bets in large companies in Southeast Asia, especially in banking. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority modified their asset allocation to be more accommodative to investments in Latin America and Asia. The China Investment Corporation has been an avid investor, investing in South Africa’s Shanduka Group, paying two billion rand for a stake.

The majority of institutional investors still perceive emerging markets as an asset class, even though each “emerging market” is quite diverse in their makeup. The effect of QE policy will impact each emerging market different.

Trouble is brewing in the world of BRICS. Profiting from positive economic growth in recent years, a slowdown in growth will fan the flames of discontent. Nations with current account deficits like Brazil seem to be at most risk for institutional investors. In addition, commodity dependent countries may be vulnerable if China slows down their economic workshop.

Could the decrease in hot money have an impact in Brazil? Inflation in Brazil has caused social tension. The rise in the cost of public transportation augmented the cost of living in Brazil. On June 18, 2013, 50,000 protestors assembled in the streets of Sao Paulo to express frustration at the government.

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