5/25/2012 4:01 PM ET|
The global economy's 'New Tigers'
As the developed world slows down, these nations have the potential to step up -- and to change the global economy.
As the big headliners for economic growth lose their appeal, the search for new stars has begun.
The "New Tigers" of the world are nations that have flown below investors' radar but are most likely to stand out in the years ahead as economic powerhouses such as the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada give up the spotlight to countries experiencing stronger growth.
Poland and Turkey in Europe, Peru and Colombia in Latin America, the Philippines and Indonesia in Asia, and Ghana in Africa, among others, have the potential to draw attention away from their better-known regional peers, defy the global slowdown, pique investor interest and reshape the global economy.
"An economic tiger should have a pattern of growth that is more than just a quarter or two," said Karim Rahemtulla, the emerging markets/options director at Wall Street Daily. "It has to be growing due to some type of competitive advantage that is afforded by its population, either through education or skilled or unskilled labor."
Also, the political system must "recognize the need for growth and encourage it through looser monetary policy and with incentives for foreign direct investment, while at the same time moving to a system of legal protection for investors' capital," said Rahemtulla.
The world has already seen these strengths in Brazil, Russia, India and China, also known as the BRICs, which have taken center stage in recent years. Growth in these countries remains strong, but they're no longer seeing the spectacular expansions investors have come to expect.
The growth available in the BRICs is far from over, and "years and years of growth are left as the countries modernize, increase efficiency and continue to expand their middle classes," said Bill Kornitzer, a portfolio manager of the Buffalo International Fund.
But the "avenues of growth will change as these economies mature, and I believe we are already witnessing this as China moves from an economy focused on cheap exports to one focused more inward toward a rising consumer class," he said.
Against this backdrop, "some other smaller 'emerging' or 'growth' economies are becoming increasingly important," said Gene Huang, the chief economist at FedEx. "These countries may not have the size of the BRICs, but they play a significant role in the global supply chain."
Poland and Turkey have managed to distance themselves from Europe's continuing debt crisis.
"Turkey has the potential to be the economic superpower of the region," said Rahemtulla.
"The engine of growth is the country's position as a trading hub," he said, pointing out that it "stands at the crossroads of several important energy markets" as it borders Iran, Iraq and Azerbaijan, and it has access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.
"International corporations increasingly prefer to use Turkey as a regional export hub because of (its) political stability and large domestic market," said Martina Bozadzhieva, practice leader for Central and Eastern Europe at Frontier Strategy Group.
Turkey is the world's 17th-most-populous nation, and its population is young, with only 6.3% of about 75 million people aged 65 or older, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
"It has a great location, next to affluent Europe and a booming Middle East," and with a large population and competitive wages, it's become "the region's workshop," said Ravi Ramamurti, the director of the Center for Emerging Markets at Northeastern University.
"Turkey is to Europe what Mexico has been to the U.S.," he said.
Poland's economy, meanwhile, is not overly reliant on exports, is supported by a large domestic market and was the only European economy to avoid recession in 2008 and 2009.
Some of the leading sectors in Poland include consumer goods, auto manufacturing and energy, Bozadzhieva said. Success in shale gas production is likely to be a game changer for the economy, lowering energy prices and local production costs, attracting foreign investment in local manufacturing and supporting high growth in the consumer sector.
Exchange-traded funds focused on Poland include the iShares MSCI Poland Investable Market Index Fund (EPOL) and the Market Vectors Poland ETF (PLND), while the iShares MSCI Turkey Investable Market Index Fund (TUR) provides exposure to Turkey.
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