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Russia: A Cathartic Moment for Emerging Markets?

Numerous market commentaries and opinion columns since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have highlighted the fading investor perception of emerging-market assets. The story so far has played true to the worst emerging market stereotypes that global investors dread. A leader who started by promising stability and prosperity ends up as a thuggish strongman, callous enough to sacrifice the future of his own people in a destructive quest for glory. A country with vast resources and growth potential sliding rapidly down into economic desolation. Global investors who saw the promise and poured in billions, only to see it all evaporate in a matter of days. Political maneuvering by other countries spreads the risk perception and triggers investor panic elsewhere. We have seen parts of this storyline in the past, albeit on a smaller scale.  

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International Equities – Where Value Goes to Hide

As U.S. equities outperformed over the last decade, helped by superior earnings growth and innovation, relative valuations of international stocks have fallen steadily. In fact, the valuation differential between U.S. and international equities is at its widest since the 2008 financial crisis. With improved operating margins, beneficial structural trends, the likely capex revival, and fiscal spending, are international stocks positioned to outperform? We believe so.

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Emerging Markets, Localized Opportunities

While we are favorable on the overall outlook for emerging markets (EMs), there is a wide disparity in the pace and stage of their recoveries from economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While gross domestic product (GDP) expectations for all EMs decreased significantly because of the pandemic, this delta is significantly smaller for countries such as China that were among the first to experience widespread infections and implement measures to control the pandemic.

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