Emerging market assets have long been a source of both potential profit and peril for investors. 2017 saw an incredible streak of capital inflows into emerging market equities, bonds and currencies. Whilst returns are still characteristically volatile, this historically maverick asset class has become more mature and resilient than ever before, as was highlighted during February's market sell-off.
The active versus passive debate consistently generates conflicting advice. The potential for active managers to side-step a falling market is one frequently cited factor. But have regional equity funds actually outperformed their respective indices during market corrections?
In a raging bull market there is always the temptation to buy the laggards in the hope of juicy returns from a 'catch-up' trade. Unfortunately, all too often you end up in a value trap instead: there’s a reason the stock has lagged and that reason often turns out to be annoyingly persistent. There’s no doubt that Mexico meets the laggard definition. But I would argue that there’s a strong case it could actually be a catch-up story.
On the face of it, things don’t look good for Mexico; and that’s reflected in asset prices. Its largest trading partner has threatened to scrap a free trade agreement that's been in place for almost a quarter century. In addition, a populist is leading in the polls to replace President Peña in the July elections. But look again and you might see a country potentially on the cusp of a spectacular comeback.
Middle Eastern investors have been cautious on risk for a while. I believe that if markets remain relatively calm, many will be tempted to deploy more cash.
How does emerging market debt typically perform after being downgraded from investment grade? Does forced selling lead to underperformance or is it all in the price by then?
In the decades leading up to the global financial crisis (GFC), global trade grew roughly twice as fast as global output. But in the five years before 2016, trade mostly underperformed activity, prompting many to call the end of globalisation. We indulged in those discussions ourselves eighteen months ago. These calls, it seems, were premature.