Emerging market investors should look to stable, independent economies.
This means those that aren’t dependent on the economic fortunes of the developed world and China, says Stephen Burrows, senior investment manager and product specialist of Global Emerging Markets Equities at Pictet Asset Management. His firm manages the Renaissance Emerging Markets Fund.
Lower growth rates in developed economies, along with uncertain growth prospects in China, make economies tightly linked to these markets less than desirable.
Burrows suggests looking instead to Southeast Asian economies like the Philippines, a market driven largely by the domestic economy. He notes about 70% of its GDP growth is based on domestic consumer spending.
“The outlook for domestic consumer spending is very positive, because you have a population of about 95 million people, with half of that population under the age of 25,” he says.
“So, you have a new generation of consumers coming through, interest rates at record low levels—3.5%—and you have a very high savings rate. Growth is going to remain very strong in the Philippines.”
Burrows points to consumer stocks, the telecom sector, and the banking industry as top investment choices for a country like the Philippines.
On the flip side, countries like Taiwan may have a tougher time if weak growth continues in developed markets.
Unlike the Philippines, Burrows says Taiwan “is very dependent on export growth for its economic momentum.”
He adds, “It has a lot of exposure to consumers in the developed market through the high weighting of technology companies there—and as exports are such a big driver to economic growth, growth numbers are subdued relative to other emerging markets.”
Markets like Taiwan may have excellent opportunities when it comes to individual stocks, but it’s less attractive from a broader perspective in the current unstable environment.