By Michael Power of Investec Asset Management
The Brics acronym has captured investors’ imagination like few others. But has it really helped us understand the intrinsic nature of the risks and rewards in the emerging market (EM) asset class, thereby allowing us to profit from investing in it? I have long had my doubts and recent turmoil in the asset class has only confirmed them. So is there a better way of understanding this asset class? My conclusion is that we should move away from the prism of Brics – and indeed some of the other acronyms now flavouring this alphabet soup – and instead think of EMs in terms of blocs.
There is a pressing need to do this: the paradox of investing in EMs is that whilst the structural case for doing so is overwhelming, it remains an asset class that is still both cyclically risky and very volatile. This suggests the right question to ask is no longer “whether” to invest in EMs, but “how”. And in answering this “how”, we must above all acknowledge that not all EMs were born alike. Continue reading »