Global Investing

from Davos Notebook:

Will Goldman’s new BRICwork stand up?

RTXWLHHJim O'Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who coined the term BRICs back in 2001, is adding four new countries to the elite club of emerging market economies. But does his new edifice have the same solid foundations?

In future, the BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, China and India will be merged with those of Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and South Korea under the banner “growth markets,” O'Neill told the Financial Times.

Hmmm.  Doesn't quite grab you like BRICs, does it? The Guardian helpfully offers an amended branding banner of  "Bric 'n Mitsk" (geddit?). But which ever way you cut it, it's hard to see a flood of investment conferences and funds floating off under the new moniker.

Ten years ago, Goldman had this field to itself. Now more and more acronyms are being bandied around by  banks  seeking to pique investors' appetite for higher returns.

Goldman has already launched the N-11, or Next Eleven countries, and other contenders include the VISTA economies (Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey and Argentina), the CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) and the EAGLES (Emerging and Growth-Leading Economies).

from MacroScope:

The long and short of it

Fashionomics followers will be familiar with the Hemline Index, a theory presented by economist George Taylor in 1926 that suggests that hemlines on women's dresses rise along with stock prices.

FRANCE-FASHION/

Based on this theory, micro-minis can be seen in good times as women take more risks, while maxi dresses (floor-sweeping dresses) reflect uncertainty and conservatism during a recession.

Looking forward to 2011, many analysts expect reasonable global growth of 4.5-5 percent and equities are the No.1 favoured asset class among investors after the benchmark MSCI index has risen more than 9 percent so far this year.

from Funds Hub:

Markets could be derailed again, warns Soros

CLIMATE-COPENHAGEN/Railway porter-turned-billionaire financier George Soros delivered a stark warning last night that the financial world is on the wrong track and that we may be hurtling towards an even bigger boom and bust than in the credit crisis.

The man who 'broke' the Bank of England (and who is still able to earn a cool $3.3 bln in a year) said the same strategy of borrowing and spending that had got us out of the Asian crisis could shunt us towards another crisis unless tough lessons are learned.

Soros, who worked as a porter to pay for his studies at the London School of Economics after emigrating from Hungary, warned us to heed the lesson that modern economics had got it wrong and that markets are not inherently stable.

from Changing China:

Starbucks and the overvalued yuan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is latte at Starbucks in China overpriced or is the local currency, the yuan, unexpectedly overvalued? The former is certainly more plausible, but it might be equally true that the yuan, if not overvalued, is at least not as undervalued as other measures suggest.

This conclusion would come from my proposed Grande Latte index, the caffeinated equivalent of The Economist's Big Mac index. The Grande Latte index, like its burger brother, is a light-hearted attempt to find a basket of goods that can be compared across countries to assess purchasing power parity (PPP) and, by extension, fair currency value. There are serious flaws, but I will save these for, ahem, the bottom of this blog.

The cross-country cost comparison of grande (i.e. medium in Starbucks-speak) lattes shows that the Seattle-based coffee chain's brew is rather dear in China. A grande latte costs $3.75 in the United States but $4.10 in China in dollar terms. It is even more expensive in Japan. The conclusion, that the yen is currently overvalued by 23 percent, accords well with the views of many analysts. But the idea that the yuan might be overvalued by 9 percent flies in the face of pretty much all conventional wisdom. It is also a drastically different perspective than that of the Big Mac index, which in its latest edition showed the yuan to be 49 percent undervalued.