Cashing in on Vietnam's Boom Won't be Easy

22 September 2019
Vietnam's economy is on a tear, and may benefit more from U.S.-China trade conflict.But pickings for investors are slim.

Barron's June 14, 2019


Vietnam is an ascendant nation. Economic growth is cruising at 6% to 7% annually, powered by an export sector ranging from T-shirts to smartphones. (Samsung makes most of its handsets there.) The population of 97 million is young (median age 31), cheap to hire, and offers “the best-positioned workforce in Southeast Asia from an educational perspective,” says Sriyan Pietersz, an investment strategist at Matthews Asia.

 “The investment thesis is simple,” he adds. “This is a classic emerging markets story.” And oh, yeah, multinationals spooked by the trade war on China can move production to Vietnam, hopefully out of harm’s way.

Can Chinese IPOs Break Their Losing Streak?

22 September 2019
Chinese unicorns are not shy about coming to market, Just one problem: Most have been dogs so far.

Barron's April 5, 2019

Silicon Valley’s super-start-ups are teasing investors about whether they will follow Lyft to the public market. Chinese unicorns are less coy. At least eight raised more than $1 billion through initial public offerings in Hong Kong or the U.S. last year, offering a smorgasbord of access to the country’s burgeoning economy.

There’s just one problem: Nearly all of the issues have been dogs. Shares in phone maker Xiaomi (ticker: XIACF) have plunged 45% since a few days after the company’s $4.7 billion IPO. Food-delivery service Meituan Dianping (MPNGF) is off nearly 30% since raising $4.2 billion.

Cautious Excitement over China's A-Shares Market Opening

13 March 2019
MSCI's index gurus opened hundreds of exciting Chinese growth companies to global investment with its latest weightings adjustment. But it's a work in progress.

March 8, 2019 1:13 p.m. ET


Chinese stocks are hot again. Very hot.

The KraneShares Bosera MSCI China A Share exchange-traded fund (ticker: KBA), which tracks domestically-listed A-shares, rose 22% year to date. The iShares MSCI China ETF (MCHI), invested in offshore H-shares, is up 15%.

Rumors of trade peace with the U.S. are the primary driver. Beijing authorities have also done their bit by tilting away from deleveraging and toward economic stimulus. The index gurus at MSCI further bolstered the bull case on Feb. 28, more than quadrupling the weight of A-shares in their global emerging markets basket by the end of 2019. “This is definitely a game-changer,” enthuses Brendan Ahern, KraneShares’ chief investment officer.


Tencent Faces Middle Age

13 March 2019
What's next for a web phenomenon after securing 1 billion regular users? Tencent's bosses, and shareholders, are trying to figure that out.


Jan. 18, 2019 


What does an online company do next after securing a billion regular users? Chinese phenomenon Tencent Holdings is trying to answer that question against the trickiest economic backdrop in China for at least a decade.

The company issued the 7.0 version of its ubiquitous social platform, WeChat, in December, the first “full number” upgrade in four years. WeChat creator Allen Zhang, whose aura among the faithful resembles Steve Jobs’, preached its virtues for four hours at a subsequent developers’ conference, focusing on new video-streaming features that will “let people record what they’re really experiencing.”

Brazil, India Top 2019 Emerging Markets Political Calendar

13 March 2019
Brazil's election is over, but the struggle to pass crucial pension reforms just starting. India goes to the polls this spring, with Modi's re-election far from certain.


Jan. 4, 2019 9:00 a.m. ET


Geopolitics is top of mind for emerging-market investors at the dawn of 2019, as U.S. trade negotiators head for Beijing on Jan. 7. But national politics also loom large in other key markets. Nowhere more so than in Brazil, where capitalists’ enthusiasm for new President Jair Bolsonaro rests on the assumption that he will push through long-stymied pro-market reforms.

That won’t be easy. Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party controls just one-tenth of the 513 seats in the lower house of Brazil’s Congress; the rest are split among 30 other parties. And the mother of all reforms, a pension cutback that would force voters to retire in their 60s, not their 50s, requires a three-fifths majority.

Emerging Market Stocks are (a Little) Cheap

13 March 2019
Emerging market stocks start 2019 at a discount to historical valuations, but risks abound too. EM bonds look like the surer bet

Emerging market assets have certainly been beaten up over the last 12 months. The Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets exchange-traded fund (ticker: VWO) has lost 17%, the iShares JP Morgan Emerging Markets BondETF (EMB) 9%. Does that make them a bargain now? The short answer is: sort of, though external risks remain higher than usual, and bonds, with a few exceptions, look better than stocks.

Private Equity Cools on Emerging Markets

30 April 2017
Is the smart money fleeing EM just as the herd rushes in?

Barron's Sept. 2016


Investors are finally warming to emerging markets. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets exchange-traded fund has jumped 17% this year, and emerging markets funds of all kinds have marked more than $130 billion in inflows, according to the Institute for International Finance in Washington.

But numbers from the private-equity sector make you wonder if something is wrong with this picture. New capital commitments to emerging market private-equity funds dropped 42% in 2015 to about $40 billion, and are plunging again this year toward 2009 levels, says London-based data tracker Preqin.

Where's the Emerging Market Oil Dividend?

30 April 2017
Cheaper oil is supposed to help most EM economies, which import energy. Hasn't happened so far.

Barron’s, May 14, 2016


Low oil prices are obviously bad for some emerging markets, such as Russia and Brazil. But they should be good for most of them, including India and China. Crude exporters represent just 20% of the global MSCI Emerging Markets Index, says Marcus Svedberg, chief economist at East Capital in Stockholm.

Markets have ignored this logic, however. Emerging market indexes have plummeted since the great oil crash began in mid-2014, and only started to recover as crude prices rebounded recently. Analysts who waited on an oil dividend for the developing world are giving up hope. “If you haven’t seen it for more than 20 months, you probably won’t see it now,” says John Baffes, who oversees the World Bank’s commodities forecasting. Here’s why:

Indian Software Falls Behind Digital Curve

30 April 2017
Tata, Infosys and Wipro made Bangalore a global tech nexus. But they haven't kept up with the times

Barrons, July 2016

A technological generation ago—the early 2000s—upstart software outsourcers from India like Tata Consultancy Services , Infosys , and Wipro wrought an industry revolution and put their country on the map as a global brain center. Now they are in danger of falling behind the times. Shares of all three have slumped over the past month or so after quarterly results disappointed on growth, margins, or both.