To me, it does not make sense to club BRIC together for investing purposes. Each country should be looked at individual entity. China continues to receive most attention in the press, however, I believe its India that provides a much better option for small individual investors. Following are three reasons I believe India has relatively more fundamental strength than other countries.
- Inward Consumption Based Growth: India’s economy is consumption oriented when compared to other emerging markets. India’s export contributes less than 15% to its $1.2T GDP. The IT outsourcing services and back office has garnered most of the business media coverage; however, these industries have less than 8% contribution to the GDP and employ less than 5 million people. This is an indicator of growth by internal production and consumption. It is less reliant on exports. Quite contrarily, these technology services perform better in recession, because it is all about optimizing operational cost.
- Conservative Central Bank: Its Reserve Bank (a.ka. central bank) has very conservative monetary policy, which is why we did not see failure of the banks (or banking system) during recent financial melt down. There were no widespread bank bailouts.
- Transparency: It has democratic governance which on many occasions slows down the decision making progress, but provides better transparency (relative to Russia and China). As of today, its currency is freely convertible for trading goods and services, but there are certain restrictions for international asset acquisition. However, it has a pragmatic roadmap to allow its currency to fully float with market dynamics. In 2007 and 2008, when Dollar dropped against Indian Rupee, Indian export started becoming uncompetitive.
- Government Stimulus Driven Growth is Less: The Indian market has rebounded in line with other emerging markets like China or Brazil. An earlier fear of bubble seems to be a just – a fear. It’s economy indicator suggest it is back of growth. The key in this rebound is; not much is being supported by government driven expenditure or public infrastructure projects. In fact, it continues to stumble on its infrastructure.
Having said that, I believe, individual investors should use ETF based investment vehicles for India (or any other emerging markets) which invest in array of companies and have less fees and commissions. Keeping with this thought process, I use Wisdom Tree India based ETF, EPI. You may read more about my reasons for selecting EPI for this objective.
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