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投资者需警惕新兴市场新一轮政局动荡

Cyrus Sanati 2013年12月17日

泰国和乌克兰两国最近爆发的大规模抗议活动表明,眼下新兴市场的政局正处于空前不稳定的时期。但是,导致这些抗议活动的深层次问题并没有得到解决。明年,多个新兴市场将举行选举,这些国家的政局还会进一步动荡,投资者必须警惕。

    上周末,泰国和乌克兰都出现了大规模示威游行。新兴市场投资者不能对此掉以轻心。尽管这两个国家的抗议活动表面上没有什么联系,但引发抗议的都是多年来一直未能得到解决的深层次政治问题。如果泰国或乌克兰的矛盾真的激化,随之出现的不利影响可能让邻国蒙受巨大经济损失,也会再次给投资者带来沉重的打击。

    今年,新兴市场特别不稳定。中国经济陷入停滞,巴西和埃及政局动荡。年初,由于担心美联储(Fed)可能压缩债券购买规模,MSCI新兴市场指数(MSCI Emerging Market Index)今年夏天大幅下跌。直到美联储出人意料地决定维持债券购买规模不变,这个指数才迅速反弹。虽然有美联储带来的反弹,MSCI新兴市场指数今年仍然下跌了5.3%。在此期间,标普500指数(S&P 500)却一路高歌猛进,涨幅高达27%。

    不过,对收益率的追求仍然会引领投资者重返新兴市场,美国和欧洲投资者已经为此投入了数十亿美元资金。融资和金融信息平台Dealogic提供的数据显示,7月份以来,阿根廷Merval指数上涨了近70%;6-11月期间,新兴市场公司的债券发行规模高达710亿美元。显然,新兴市场已经复苏——或者说,有人让投资者相信新兴市场已经复苏。

    目前,青睐新兴市场的投资者正在根据乌克兰和泰国的局势发展来决定自己在东欧和东南亚市场的前进方向。抗议活动迅速消耗了这两个国家的政治和经济能量,还有可能再次给新兴市场投资者带来出其不意的打击。

    在泰国,。近十年来,政府最高领导层的腐败一直在影响泰国经济的发展前景。民众已经身心俱疲。经过几周的抗议示威,泰国总理英拉在上周末宣布解散议会,进行大选。但由于英拉拒绝在选举前下台,曼谷的冲突仍在继续。

    在乌克兰,亲俄罗斯派和亲欧盟派的多年政治内斗导致这个国家在经济方面毫无建树。俄罗斯希望继续控制乌克兰。在俄方敦促下,乌克兰政府拒绝和欧盟签订贸易协议,上周末的抗议活动随之升级。乌克兰的热血青年希望进行大选,以便清除腐败的政府官员,因为他们认为后者把俄罗斯的利益置于乌克兰民众的利益之上。上周二夜间,随着抗议者占领基辅市中心的广场,冲突变得更为激烈。

    然而,两国令人不安的局势似乎没有对投资者产生影响。实际上,MSCI新兴市场指数上周一反而出现了上涨。俄罗斯规模最大的纯交易所交易基金(ETF)The Market Vectors Russia Index ETF当天上扬了0.75%,此前的一个周末乌克兰示威者在基辅市中心推倒列宁像的时间并没有产生不利影响。泰国的SET指数周一也高收0.43%。

    指数上升似乎表明一切安好,但情况显然并非如此。看来,有些投资者已经对抗议示威产生了“审美疲劳”,因而对乌克兰和泰国的冲突活动视而不见。今年,许多新兴市场都出现了“民众力量”的崛起,但其中有许多都无果而终,这就是投资者对此类事件产生疲劳感的源头。看起来,市场认为泰国和乌克兰的情况也会是这样。

    The eruption of popular protests in Thailand and Ukraine over the weekend shouldn't be taken so lightly by emerging markets investors. The two seemingly unrelated disturbances both revolve around deep-seated and unresolved political issues, which have been simmering for years. Should either of them actually blow, the resulting toxic fallout could have dire economic consequences for their neighbors and deliver yet another pelting to investors.

    The emerging markets have been particularly volatile this year with growth stalling in China and political upheavals disrupting Brazil and Egypt. Worries that the U.S. was set to curb its bond buying program earlier this year sent the MSCI Emerging Market Index plummeting in the summer, only to rebound quickly thereafter when the Federal Reserve unexpectedly decided to keep the program running at full blast. Despite the pullback by the Fed, the MSCI is still down 5.3% on the year. That compares with the S&P 500 (SPX), which has shot up a bubbly 27% during the same time period.

    But the quest for yield has led investors back into the emerging markets, with billions of dollars pouring in from investors in the U.S. and Europe. Argentina's Merval stock market has jumped nearly 70% since July, for example, while EM companies have sold a whopping $71 billion worth in bonds from June to November, according to Dealogic. Clearly, EM is back -- or that is what investors have been led to believe.

    Take what is going on currently in the Ukraine and Thailand, emerging market darlings for their respective orbits in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Protests in both countries have quickly consumed the political and economic hearts of both countries and threaten to throw EM investors yet another curve ball.

    In Thailand, corruption at the highest levels of power has stunted the peaceful nation's economic growth prospects for nearly a decade. The people have grown tired of it and this weekend, after weeks of protests, were able to push the Prime Minister to dissolve parliament and call for new elections. Disruption continues in Bangkok as the Prime Minister has refused to step down before the elections.

    In Ukraine, years of political infighting between those loyal to their former Russian overlords and those who want to forge closer ties with the European Union has left the country in economic limbo. But protests there went into overdrive this weekend after the government scrapped a trade agreement with the European Union at the behest of Russia, who wants Ukraine to remain in their orbit. Ukrainian patriots want new elections so that they can purge their corrupt government of officials who they believe put the interests of Moscow over that of the Ukrainian people. Fighting there intensified Tuesday night as protestors occupied the central square in Kiev.

    But investors seemed to shrug off these two worrisome developments, indeed, the MSCI EM index actually strengthened on Monday. The Market Vectors Russia index (RSX), the largest dedicated Russian ETF, was up 0.75% on Monday, even though Ukrainian protesters tore down a statue of Lenin in central Kiev over the weekend. Thailand's SET stock index also gained on Monday, up 0.43%.

    The stronger numbers would seem to suggest that all is well, even though that is clearly not the case. It appears that some investors have developed "protest fatigue" and are choosing to simply ignore the conflagrations in Ukraine and Thailand. The fatigue emanates from the deluge of "people power" uprisings in a number of emerging markets this year, many of which simply fizzled out. Apparently, the markets believe that will be the case in these two incidents as well.

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