The Frontier Markets are Beckoning
|July 15th, 2010||
|Contributed by: The Mad Hedge Fund Trader|
|A quick look at the world's top performing stock markets during the first half of 2010 will not exactly ring bells for many investors. Bangladesh came in tops with a 40.7% gain, followed by Sri Lanka (34.6%), and Venezuela (18%). You have to get down to Chile, number four, to find an ETF (ECH), and to Thailand (TF), to find a fund peripherally covered in this letter (click here for the link).|
Only two of the top nine countries have dedicated funds. Having a hard time finding any of these in your portfolio? Therein lies the problem. This is turning into a year when the world's least liquid, most untradeable countries offering minimal amounts of public information and disclosure, are bringing in the best returns, shutting most of us out. The Lilliputian size of these markets, where total market capitalization is less than that of a single medium sized company in the West, is keeping the big institutions out.
The best gains are increasingly coming from outside the mainstream BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, which are becoming increasingly crowded with foreign index funds, ETF's, hedge funds, and even individual investors. These are being labeled as "frontier" or "pre-emerging" markets by early stage investors. Jim O'Neill at Goldman Sachs, who originally coined the term "BRIC" a decade ago, refers to several of them as the "N-11". They all offer the same story: an emerging middle class bursting on to the world economy, generating white hot growth rates like those seen in Japan (EWJ) in the fifties, Singapore (EWS) in the seventies, or China (FXI) today. These countries typically offer great infrastructure plays in banking, telecommunications, and construction. Expect to hear a lot more about these markets in the future, and for your investment lives to become complicated as a result.