“Will today's emerging markets spur the contagion for the next financial crisis? Learn how you as a business leader can prepare for the uncertain future ahead.”
Is the next global financial crisis just around the corner? If so, will it be markedly different from the last crisis? And is there a possibility the contagion will come from today's emerging markets, such as China, Turkey or Argentina?
While the future is uncertain and uncontrollable, you can take calculated steps as a business leader to prepare now for what may come later.
Emerging Market Economies Are on the Rise
The strength of emerging market economies was one of several top concerns for leaders in 2018, according to the Mercer Global Talent Trends study, and it continues to be a concern today. While Asia, Latin America and Africa steadily replace the North-Atlantic-centric economies as the world's engines of growth, the global economy is experiencing increasing impacts due to their growing strength.
Ardavan Mobasheri, managing director and chief investment officer at ACIMA Private Wealth, believes the global leadership baton will have been completely passed to the faster-growing economies by 2030. He states, "By the end of the third decade of the century, the transition will likely be complete, with the anchors of global economic growth cast across the Pacific and the Southern Hemisphere."
But as the world adjusts to the growing strength of emerging market economies, it must also adapt to those economies' inevitable speed bumps.
"Speed Bumps" Are Starting to Form Globally
Emerging market assets are now retreating in the face of increasing headwinds across their geographies, including production slowdown, rising debt, higher inflation rates and slides in currencies.1
"The contagion in emerging markets happens through different channels, and it tends to be greater in periods of monetary tightening in developed markets," Pablo Goldberg, a senior fixed-income strategist with BlackRock, tells CNBC.2 "Liquidity is an issue. Investors will sell what they can sell."
Desmond Lachman, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former deputy director for the International Monetary Fund's Policy Development and Review Department, writes that U.S. economists and policymakers are ignoring risks posed by emerging economies at their own peril.
"They fail to see that years of massive Fed balance sheet expansion and zero interest rates created the easiest of borrowing conditions for the emerging markets," Lachman writes. "By so doing, they removed economic policy discipline from those economies and allowed large economic imbalances in those economies to develop, especially in their public finances."
Now that more capital is flowing back into U.S. assets deemed safer than emerging market assets, the acute economic vulnerabilities built up within the emerging market economies during the years of "easy" money are being revealed. These vulnerabilities, if left unchecked, will likely continue to grow and spread globally, extending their implications even further into the years to come.
Business Leaders Can Adapt — Here's How
To best prepare for an uncertain financial future and avoid those vast repercussions, you'll want to first take notes on the aftermath of the last financial crisis — it can teach some strong lessons on how the global economy and financial system work.
For example, according to the Mercer report, "10 Years After the Global Financial Crisis: 10 Lessons to Learn," one of the most important lessons from 2009 shows that U.S. policymakers' policies, record low policy interest rates, vast liquidity injected into the banking system and quantitative easing produced unexpected outcomes across the globe. While the monetary policies haven't been inflationary in terms of consumer prices, they have been inflationary in terms of asset prices.
Now, policy rates are increasing in some economies, but the full consequences of the last crisis' aftermath on all of the world's economies are still unknown, even today. Keeping that in mind, you can take these three steps as a business leader to prepare for the next crisis:
1. Don't abandon diversification, widely known as "the only free lunch in investment."
2. Be dynamic, and be prepared to rotate out of assets currently at close-to-record highs if they become unfavorable once investors realize their valuations may not be based on strong fundamentals, such as underlying growth in profits.
3. Don't abandon active management, as conditions will inevitably change.
Taking these three simple steps will allow you to stay nimble and flexible enough to adapt to any situation — even a financial crisis. As markets endure various metamorphoses, remember these lessons and keep these tips in mind to ready your organization for any crises to come.
1. Teso, Yumi and Oyamada, Aline, "Emerging Markets Retreat Amid Global Growth Concerns: EM Review," Bloomberg, February 15, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-15/emerging-market-rally-abate-as-trade-concern-returns-em-review./
2. Osterland, Andrew, "Emerging markets, despite strengths, still get no respect," CNBC, October 1, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/01/emerging-markets-despite-strengths-still-get-no-respect.html.
3. Lachman, Desmond, "We ignore risks posed by emerging economies at our own peril," American Enterprise Institute, September 17, 2018, http://www.aei.org/publication/we-ignore-risks-posed-by-emerging-economies-at-our-own-peril/.