The trade war is very scary for everybody. From politicians to executives to investors (in both nations), everyone is afraid of the implications of the trade war. However, there are some good reasons not to be. Firstly, while there are fears of a market tailspin, the reality is that the dovish Fed should provide a safety net. Secondly, many worry the trade war could bring the economy to a standstill, but remember that only 2.4% of US economic output is at risk of Chinese tariffs. Finally, many fear China could dump its $1.1 tn of Treasuries. The truth is that doing so is very unlikely, and even if they do, it is a small portion of the $22 tn market.
FINSUM: The general theme to take away here is that China is not as big a part of the US economy and markets as many seem to assume it is. That said, the secondary effects of a trade war, such as the psychological impact on business and the effect on the rest of the world, could be considerable.
American investors generally don’t pay enough attention to merging markets. We have such a big economy and markets that investing abroad often feels foreign and unnecessary. However, the diversification benefits of doing so can be huge, and right now may be an excellent time, says Morgan Stanley. The bank’s lead emerging markets strategist, Ruchir Sharma, is changing tune. For the last decade he said US shares, and particularly tech, would outperform. Now the pendulum is swinging back, with EM likely to take the lead.
FINSUM: EMs have obviously been beat up over the last decade, so there is certainly value to be had. The big worry for us is about global trade policy and how that constrains EM growth.
Alongside the renewed fall in equities, EMs and especially EM currencies have been taking it on the chin. With western markets seizing up and oil prices tumbling it is a double whammy for emerging markets. EMs are hurt by declines in oil, but are doubly wounded by the risk-off mood that is pervading markets. Treasuries have seen big yield declines as investors flooded in, and that has meant outflows from EMs, which have seen their currencies drop considerably. The Rand and Lira have been hurt most.
FINSUM: This ship probably won’t be righted until western markets exercise their demons.
Emerging markets have had a rough year, with a bear market taking hold. An “all clear” or false bottom has been called a number of times, which means investors need to be very wary of piling in. That said, an interesting signal is showing that emerging markets may be in for a turnaround. London-based Ashmore plc is a major asset manager focused on emerging markets, managing $76 bn in the asset class. Their shares are a bellwether for where EM assets may be headed. And lately, Ashmore has been doing very well. The shares are still down for the year, but rose for eight straight days through Wednesday, their longest winning streak since February.
FINSUM: This could be a sign that the tide is turning. As further evidence, the gains seen in Ashmore shares were not experienced by other asset managers, showing there is a clear differentiation.
The big crash in oil has a lot of investors worried. Generally speaking, falling oil prices are seen as a bad sign, as they tend to forecast a weakening economy. However, this time around, there is a big beneficiary—emerging markets. The large majority of EMs are oil importers, which mean they benefit from weakening prices. Accordingly, countries like India and the Philippines are seeing benefits to their currencies, and likely, their economies. Indonesia and Turkey are also big oil importers.
FINSUM: This is more of a silver lining to a negative than a positive development in itself.
The big selloff in bonds has caused a wipeout in emerging markets. The sector, which has seen broad turmoil this year, just witnessed its biggest selloff since March. That fact is quite eye-opening given that the period includes all the worries over Turkey. The big losses have largely been driven by the appreciating Dollar, which hurts EM economies and assets. With the US economy going so well and the Fed likely to increase the pace of hikes, EMs look vulnerable. The MSCI EM Index fell 2% today.
FINSUM: There are some idiosyncratic problems, but EM economies don’t look as weak as this year’s market performance would suggest. It is really US strength that is hurting EM assets.