The goal of every ‘emerging’ economy is, surely, to one day emerge to developed status. Many developing countries have set stated target dates for achieving this designation. But is it possible to do this in reverse? Greece is going to try. In the aftermath of its near default, the country has announced it will take its bonds on a roadshow in the US as an emerging market sell.
There are certainly plenty of reasons developed markets might look upon the emerging economies with envy, or why it might be considered cooler to be in the latter category rather than the former. Emerging markets overall had an easier ride during the recent global recession and, judging by the results of AT Kearney’s FDI Confidence Index 2010, featured in fDi’s Global Outlook Report 2010 published with this issue of the magazine, investors remain bullish on many of these markets.
But all emerging markets are not equal – not even all of the BRICs are equal: Russia has seen investor confidence and FDI levels drop drastically. And while the advanced economies appear less glamorous and do not always offer the prospect (however illusory) of tantalisingly terrific returns, in times of economic uncertainty investors like to seek safe harbours in a storm.
The US, UK and Canada all did well in attracting FDI last year. China and India, the reigning pair of emerging market giants, got toppled for project numbers in 2009 by the developed market duo, the US (edging China out of first place) and the UK (edging India for third place) – although China and India still captured more of the big projects and saw more jobs created.
Within Europe, after years of ‘new’ Europe outshining the ‘old’, it was the developed markets in western Europe that saw the steadiest FDI performance in 2009, while the eastern half of Europe suffered the most substantial decline in greenfield FDI of any region in the world.
Not only are the dividing lines between developed and developing and advanced and emerging markets unclear – the sophisticated economies of Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea remain classed as emerging on many indices – but which side of the fence it is more advantageous to be on is also entirely subjective and continually in flux.