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from MacroScope:

What emerging animal are you?

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Ever since Goldman Sach's Jim O'Neill came up with the idea of BRICs as an investment universe, competitors have been indulging in a global game of acronyms. Why not add Korea to Brazil, Russia, India and China and get a proper BRICK? Or include South Africa, as it wants, to properly upper case the "s" - BRICS or BRICKS?

Completely new lists have also been compiled -- HSBC chief Michael Geoghegan has championed CIVETS to describe Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa (ignoring the fact, as Reuters' Sebastian Tong points out here, that a civet is a skunk-like animal blamed for the spread of the deadly SARS outbreak in Asia).

Fun though some of this is -- and no one can argue that BRICs has not had an impact -- there is a danger that the acronym could become more relevant  than the actual countries involved. For example, imagine Mexico, Uruguay, Panama, Philippines, Egypt, Turkey and Sierre Leone being lumped together because they spell MUPPETS.

With this in mind, the Spanish bank BBVA is now arguing that what is needed is a more dynamic concept, one that can remain in place acronymically,  so to speak, but allow for new entrants without the need to rewrite everything. Enter BBVA's EAGLEs -- an Emerging And Growth-Leading Economy, defined by its incremental GDP rather than absolute size. The founding 10 are China, India, Brazil, Korea, Indonesia, Russia, Mexico, Turkey, Egypt and Taiwan.

from Global Investing:

Are investors building for a fall?

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Reuters has taken its monthly snapshot of the investment choices of leading fund management houses across the world. At the end of July, the picture painted was one of investors embracing risk and shutting down their safest holdings.

Equity holdings as a percentage of a typical balanced portfolio were at their highest since the end of August last year, just a couple of weeks before Lehman Brothers collapsed. Here is what has been happening to equity holdings this year: 

The sky is falling — or is it?

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The economic sky might still be falling, but it looks like the folks playing the stock markets have their hard hats on. Either that or they may be on to something. If the recent run of gains for global equities continues, world stocks will mark their best month in a decade. A look at the MSCI’s all-country world stock index shows a gain of 8 percent this month. It has climbed nearly 18 percent over the past eight sessions. It’s enough to make you think someone has opened the gate and let the bull out. But investors are ever-cautious and few are jumping up and down with glee.

What do you think? Is the stock market turning the corner?

from Global Investing:

Ignoring the drumbeat?

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Reuters released its February asset allocation polls today, showing an ever so slight increase in average holdings of stocks. The signficiance, however, was not in the small increase but in the fact that there was no decrease. February has not been kind to riskier investments, with a drumbeat of poor economic news combining with new fears about banks to send global stocks to fresh six-year lows.

Dig inside the various polls -- they come from the United States, Britain, Japan and continental Europe -- and you find different moods. Three-quarters of U.S. managers polled, for example, made no change at all in their allocations over the month. Europeans, meanwhile, are so gun shy that they are holding more than twice as much cash as their long-term average. Japanese investors were a bit more optimistic than a month earlier, apparently because fears of deep trouble in China are easing.

from Global Investing:

Dead cat bounce?

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New year can get in the way of understanding what is happening on financial markets. Just because humans measure the year in 12 month tranches, it does not necessarily follow that markets do. Consider world stocks, for example. MSCI's all-country world stock index is often cited as having fallen 43.5 percent in 2008. In fact, long-term investors' losses were a lot worse. From an all-time high on November 1, 2007, to a low on November 28, 2008, the index fell 56.2 percent.

Something similar is happening at the moment. Investors might be focusing on year-to-date losses of around 5.7 percent for the index, but they are doing better than that. The index has gained 14.5 percent from that November 28 low last year.

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