Emerging Markets: It’s Not All About Turkey

Investors in emerging-market (EM) stocks have taken a big hit as Turkey’s crisis has escalated. But a closer look inside the EM benchmark suggests that the entire developing world isn’t broken.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index dropped by 7.2% this year through August 31. Turkey’s currency crisis, followed by the Argentinian peso crash, has stoked fears of contagion. But our research shows that 80% of the index is in countries with a positive current account balance when foreign direct investment (FDI) is included. We add FDI to the calculation since these investments tend to be sticky and aren’t usually withdrawn rapidly, even when a country is in trouble.

Countries also react differently to EM turmoil. During 15 EM sell-offs over the last decade, some countries, like Malaysia and the Philippines, fell much less than the benchmark did. Others—like Brazil and Russia—fell more than the index, with a downside capture exceeding 100%.