Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

from Global Investing:

BRIC: Brilliant/Ridiculous Investment Concept

BRIC is Brazil, Russia, India, China -- the acronym coined by Goldman Sachs banker Jim O'Neill 10 years back to describe the world's biggest, fastest-growing and most important emerging markets.  But according to Albert Edwards, Societe Generale's uber-bearish strategist, it also stands for Bloody Ridiculous Investment Concept. Some investors, licking their wounds due to BRIC markets' underperformance in 2011 and 2010, might be inclined to agree -- stocks in all four countries have performed worse this year than the broader emerging markets equity index, to say nothing of developed world equities.

For years, money has chased BRIC investments, tempted by the countries' fast growth, huge populations and explosive consumer hunger for goods and services. But Edwards cites research showing little correlation between growth and investment returns. He points out that Chinese nominal GDP growth may have averaged 15.6 percent  since 1993 but the compounded  return on equity investments was minus 3.3 percent.

But economic growth -- the BRIC holy grail -- is also now slowing. Data showed this week that Brazil posted zero growth in the third quarter of 2011 compared to last year's 7.5 percent. Indian growth is  at the weakest in over two years. In Russia, rising discontent with the Kremlin -- reflected in post-election protests -- carries the risk of hitting the broader economy. And China, facing falling exports to a moribund Western world,  is also bound to slow. Edwards goes a step further and flags a hard landing in China as the biggest potential investment shock of 2012.  "Yet investors persist in the BRIC superior growth fantasy...If growth does matter to investors, they should be worried that
things seem to be slowing sharply in the BRIC universe," he writes.

Thomson Reuters data earlier this year appeared to show some disenchantment with the BRIC concept. After rising 1600-fold between 2003 and 2007, assets in BRIC funds had shrunk to $28 billion by August 2011, almost a quarter below 2007 peaks, a bigger fall in percentage terms than most other fund categories.

from Global Investing:

Time up for emerging markets?

Well, not in the long-run, no. You would be hard pressed to find an economist, investor or even politician who does not reckon the global shift in growth to Asia and Latin America is going to be the story of the coming decade, century etc.

But in the shorter term, strange things are happening. MSCI's benchmark emerging market stock index is barely in the black for the year. Even more surprising is that it is underperforming its developed market counterpart.

Wealth Management: What does the future hold?

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Even the rich aren’t as well-off as they were a year ago but that’s not stopping the wealth management industry from focusing on what the future of private banking will look like after the economic downturn has passed. Click below to view my latest story:

Debt collecting gets…er, sexy?

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Bank employees working in call centers and reminding clients of their overdue loans used to be as far to the bottom of the banking food chain as you could be. Not any more.

Raiffeisen International, the second-biggest lender in eastern Europe, has ramped up staff in its collections and risk management departments.

Stop lumping us together! say Central Europeans

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An invitation to the Reuters Central European Investment Summit may sound perfectly acceptable to many policy makers and executives but not to Czech central banker Mojmir Hampl. It’s not that he objected to visiting our Vienna office and being interviewed by a crew of editors — Hampl was ready and willing to do that. He just questioned the very idea of lumping together all the different countries in a very diverse region.

 

“I’m a bit disappointed that the key topic is how the Central and Eastern European region will develop,” Hampl told us, reviving a complaint often heard around the region. It’s a serious issue, one that has bothered many policy makers in central European countries, who grew frustrated at the height of the financial crisis that investors were not differentiating between those with sound fundamentals such as the Czech Republic and Poland and those on decidedly shakier ground.

Emerging Europe – what’s next?

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Reuters Central European Investment Summit, September 28-30, 2009

 

The former Communist countries of central Europe have been the last to be hit by the global economic crisis, but th e hit they took was among the hardest. Only big neighbour Russia’s deep plunge into recession is rivaling the sharp fall from record economic growth that’s in store this year for the economies between the former Soviet Union and Western Europe.

 

Global risk aversion and deleveraging exposed the weaknesses that the countries had been able to gloss over during the boom years – which in retrospect appeared to have been, in some countries, a colossal binge bankrolled by cheap foreign credit extended by Western European banks that had to come to an end when funding dried up.

Expect action in Japanese M&A

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After falling off a cliff at the start of this year as the global financial crisis gripped, mergers and acquisitions by Japanese companies overseas are likely to pick up again in the second half of this year, according to boutique Japanese M&A advisory firm Recof Corp.

There won’t be a flood of deals, Recof President Hikari Imai says, but the ones there are, are likely to be chunky as Japanese companies expand their frontiers beyond domestic markets where growth prospects are limited.

AUDIO – A new emerging market for real estate

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Remember the good old days where — if you lived in the United States anyway — people would talk about “emerging markets”?

We’d nod our heads knowingly, wishing these poor folks the best as they tried to accumulate the swell things we had bought for ourselves. We knew that residents of Mumbai or Caracas or somewhere would never attain the great things we had in such abundance here in the good old USA (Hummers; his and hers monogrammed dishtowels; zero down, 110% mortgages on houses we couldn’t afford … that kind of stuff), but we still wished them well.

Paper makers bet on sector despite clouds ahead

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metsopaper_head_web.JPGDespite the dark cloud hanging over the forestry sector, most industry leaders said they still see the paper business as a good investment.

Overcapacity has kept a lid on paper prices for years, while increasing costs of wood and energy have eaten into the paper makers’ already low margins.

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