The world economy may have fallen into conditions that were seen during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, thanks to aggressive interest rate hikes and a soaring dollar in the United States. But the Asian financial crisis seen in 1997 is unlikely to be repeated, per a CNBC article.
The last time the United States pushed up interest rates in such a super-hawkish manner in the 1990s, capital flew from emerging Asia into the United States. The Thai baht and other Asian currencies shattered, causing the Asian Financial Crisis.
This time, emerging Asian markets are better-positioned to survive pressures on foreign exchange rates, analysts said, as quoted on CNBC. As there are fewer foreign holdings of local assets in Asia now, any capital flights would exert less financial pressure this time around, UBS Global Wealth Management executive director for Asia-Pacific FX and macro strategist, Tan Teck Leng, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” last week.
Disinflation in Emerging Markets?
A Bloomberg article published earlier in the year pointed out that the projected inflation for a cross-section of developing nations will average 4.74% from 2026 to 2031 versus an average of 5.25% over the past five years, according to the analysis. This is a disinflationary situation. Investors should note that disinflation is the fall in the rate of inflation.
The latest U.S., U.K. and Euro zone inflation are 8.3%, 9.5% and 9.1%, respectively for the month of August. Despite been on an increasing path, inflation in developing Asia is still lower than elsewhere in the world.
The regional inflation forecast has been raised to 4.5% for this year and 4.0% for next year, per Asian Development Bank. It ensures not much policy tightening for developing Asia. Japan, which is a developed Asian country, has still been practising easy money policy. In any case, several Asian funds offer better yields than U.S. equities ETFs.
The very situation explains why EM bonds are better bet than developed market bonds at the current level. However, dollar-denominated bonds appear to be better bets here as the greenback has been rising lately.
Some Asia Countries Running Current Account Surpluses
As of June 2021, the current account was running a $3.3 billion deficit, well-below its pre-pandemic level. China’s current account surplus was 1.8% of GDP in 2021. Indonesia’s was 0.3% of 2021. Japan’s was 2.9% of 2021. Thailand records a deficit of 2.1% of 2021 GDP. Vietnam’s deficit is of 1.1% of 2021. Against this backdrop, U.S. current account deficit was equivalent to 4% of the GDP in June 2022.
Lesser current account deficits or even surpluses for some Asian economies should underpin those Asian’s countries domestic currencies even in the face of a surging dollar.
Against this backdrop, below we highlight a few Asian EM ETFs that clearly outperformed the S&P 500 (down 11.6%) in the past one month (as of Sep 23, 2022).