Now that the Fed appears to have dashed any lingering hopes for an imminent QE3, what’s next for emerging markets? Most observers put this year’s stellar performance of emerging bonds, currencies and equities largely down to the various money-printing or cheap money operations in the developed world. That’s kept core government bond yields bumping along near record lows and benefited higher-yielding emerging assets.
Thursday’s crude oil price surge to its highest in almost 4 years (apparently due to a subsequently denied report from Iran of a Saudi pipeline explosion…phew!) illustrates just how anxious and dangerous the energy market has become for world markets yet again this year and HSBC on Friday spotlighted its threat to the global economy and asset prices in a note entitled “Oil is the new Greece”. The point of the neat headline hook was a simple one:
Poor Russia. After spending six months as the world’s best performing emerging market, the Moscow bourse has been the big loser of this month’s rout – year-to-date returns of over 10 percent until mid-July have since dissolved in a sea of red, with a plunge of over 20 percent since the start of August. As oil prices fell and the outlook for U.S. and European growth darkened, overweight positions in Russia halved versus July, a survey by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch showed this week.
How quickly times change. Russia’s stock market, unloved for months, last week overtook India to be the best-performing of
the four BRICs. The Moscow stock index jumped 5 percent last week, posting its biggest weekly rise in seven months, bringing
year-to-date gains to 17.5 percent. Fund managers such as Goldman Sach’s Jim O’Neill, creator of the BRICs term, are predicting it will lead the group next year too.
Do capital controls work? After years of telling us that they do not, the IMF and World Bank reluctantly conceded last year they may not be all that bad and indeed in some cases they may actually help keep away some of the speculators who have in recent years been pouring into emerging markets.
Everyone complains about fat banker bonuses, but Bosch Chief Executive Franz Fehrenbach is taking the debate to a new level. The head of the world’s biggest car parts maker is going to review ties with its financiers and may break off business with those that pay excessive bonuses, he told reporters. “We find it irresponsible if some big banks more or less go back to business as usual before the crisis despite what we have gone through,” he said. He cited HSBC and JP Morgan as positive examples of good corporate behaviour. Of course it’s easier to be picky when you are unlisted and generate huge cash flow.