Developing countries have not been immune to the recent market shocks.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 21 percent last week to 583.32, the biggest weekly loss since the index was established in 1988. Stock markets in Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and elsewhere were forced to shut down at times in the face of steep sell-offs.
But with bulging government coffers and relatively small exposure to the imploding U.S. mortgage market, countries such as China, India and Russia enter a period of deep global uncertainty from a position of strength.
China’s Academy of Social Sciences estimated Friday that the country’s gross domestic product will grow at a 9.5 percent rate next year, down only slightly from the 10.1 percent clip this year, even as major Western economies are bracing for severe recessions.
Although India’s currency has come under pressure in recent weeks, the country’s banks have not been “seriously affected” by the global credit crisis, Rakesh Mohan, deputy governor at the Reserve Bank of India, told IMF officials in a speech Friday.
Like several emerging Asian economies that largely steered clear of the U.S. mortgage troubles, “India has by and large been spared of global financial contagion due to the subprime turmoil,” Mr. Mohan said.
Merrill Lynch’s Mr. Patelis noted one remarkable turnaround. In 1998, a bankrupt Russian government was forced to accept an international bailout after the ruble collapsed.
Ten years later, Moscow, flush with petrodollars, is considering a massive bailout loan to Iceland, once one of the West’s wealthiest countries, after the collapse in recent days of Iceland’s three largest banks.
Philip Stephens, a columnist with the Financial Times, said the rise of China and other emerging economies comes as no surprise. But the events of the past week, he said, have punctured the hopes of policymakers in Washington and Western Europe that they could shape the global order “in their own image.”
“For more than two centuries, the U.S. and Europe have exercised an effortless economic, political and cultural hegemony,” he wrote. “That era is ending.”