Besides the immense human tragedy that it has caused, Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine has also thrown emerging markets back at least a decade in terms of attractivity for investors. It will be hard, if not impossible, for the asset class to bounce back.
Despite central banks keeping interest rates at the lowest levels in history and buying debt like there’s no tomorrow, the mountain of debt is not getting any smaller. Emerging markets are, as usual, the place where people are looking for the first signs of trouble.
Corporate bondholders, beware. The wave of enthusiasm for this asset class, which has helped it to reach new heights, is now ebbing. A research paper recently published by the IMF illustrates the reasons behind this – although it must be said the paper does not represent the official position of the IMF.
As the US stocks bull market is now officially the longest after World War II, fears are increasing that the end is nigh for the bulls. However, the approach of the US mid-term elections in November might mean not just that the bull market could continue, but also the end of the emerging markets rout.
While all eyes are still on Turkey, another emerging market is about to show the ugly side of quantitative tightening, and this time things could get really serious.
The world’s second largest economy has been a “success story” for so long that people have forgotten about China’s many vulnerabilities. Or rather, the Chinese communist party has been so good at keeping things under wraps, that few of the country’s weaknesses are known to the outside world.
This past week, there has been a frenzy of selling of emerging markets assets. The outflows from both stocks and debt in emerging markets reached their highest level since December 2016.
This amounted to $3.7 billion withdrawn from emerging market equities and bonds, according to data analysed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. These outflows have helped push our old friend, the Bull/Bear indicator developed by BofA Merrill Lynch, to 4.8 — its lowest level since January 2017.
What a week last week was for stock markets, and especially for one particular indicator. The Bank of America Bull/Bear indicator, which the week before last came within a whisker of the Sell signal, last week went above it, for the first time in five years.