The souring of sentiment towards emerging markets stands in stark contrast to earlier this year. Then, professional investors were more overweight EM than at any time in history, according to Bank of America’s January fund manager survey.
Contrarians may be tempted to nibble. Still, investors are understandably spooked by recent developments in China, which accounts for 35 per cent of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. The effective banning of the country's private tutoring industry, the ongoing crackdown on big tech companies such as Tencent, Alibaba and car-hailing app DiDi, the threat of unpredictable regulation across multiple sectors – investors have taken fright at China's aggression.
One of the world's largest hedge funds, Marshall Wace, recently warned US-listed Chinese firms may now be "uninvestable". China is unlikely to be too bothered; its priorities are elsewhere. Put bluntly, "China doesn't care how much money you lose", as Bloomberg headlined last month.
As already noted, China dominates emerging market indices. Additionally, even after recent losses, it accounts for 10 per cent of global stock market capitalisation, second only to the US. The investor debate over China's "progressive authoritarianism", as Bridgewater's Ray Dalio calls it, isn't likely to fade anytime soon.