Answer: The hotel ballroom lights went out during this morning’s presentations.
Yesterday I emphasized the opportunities in global growth; today I turn to global nail biting.
Growth in south, east and Southeast Asia is proceeding at a remarkable pace, but there are costs and risks particular to each country. Demand driven growth in India is overrunning the country’s infrastructure, which still can’t be financed and built rapidly enough to meet that demand. Unique among the Asian growth economies India is already running a current account deficit and its growth pattern doesn’t offer obvious remedies to severe problems of poverty and growing inequality, especially in rural areas. But all the exciting stories have a cautionary side: in Malaysia monetary policy trails growth and inflation, Thailand’s government remains weak, Korean household debt is growing rapidly, China seems reluctant to adjust monetary and foreign exchange policies sufficiently to staunch inflation.
Around the globe, worries are growing about how political tensions in North Africa and the Middle East might threaten oil supplies and drive up prices for energy that is delivered to world markets. In rapidly growing economies, energy price shocks can accelerate inflation, while in growth-starved mature economies, higher energy prices threaten to ruin dreams of faster growth as a solution to sovereign debt problems. Sorry Athens, London, Paris, and, oh yeah, Washington, ends won’t make themselves meet.
If there’s one policy story, it’s that there is great potential for growth—particularly in countries like India and much of the rest of the emerging world—but there are still policy obstacles in many places. To the policymakers of the emerging world—don’t blow it now.
Special risks Investing in foreign securities involves additional expenses and special risks, such as currency fluctuations, foreign taxes and political and economic factors. Investments in emerging and developing markets may be especially volatile.