With a Chinese recovery now possibly on the table, it’s time to reach back into our archives and dust off all that old research on emerging markets.
Jim O’Neil is the fabled analyst who invented the “BRIC” term a decade ago, and who has since been kicked upstairs to the chairman’s seat at Goldman Sachs International (GS) in London. Jim thinks that it is still the early days for the space, and that these countries have another ten years of high growth ahead of them.
As I have been pushing emerging markets since the inception of this letter, this is music to my ears. By 2018 the combined GDP of the BRIC’s, Brazil (EWZ), Russia (RSX), India (PIN), and China (FXI), will match that of the US. China, alone, will reach two thirds of the American figure for gross domestic product. All that requires is for China to maintain a virile 8% annual growth rate for eight more years, while the US plods along at an arthritic 2% rate.
“BRIC” almost became the “RIC” when O’Neil was formulating his strategy a decade ago. Conservative Brazilian businessmen were convinced that the new elected Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would wreck the country with his socialist ways. He ignored them and Brazil became the top performing market of the G-20 since 2000. An independent central bank that adopted a strategy of inflation targeting was transformative.
If you believe that the global financial markets are back into risk accumulation mode, at least temporarily, then you probably should top up your Brazil position, as it has lagged in the smaller emerging markets so far this year. Jim Chanos, you may be right about a China crash, but you’re early by a decade! Don’t rush out and buy this minute. A correction prompted by a failure of the fiscal cliff negotiations might provide the next good entry point.