The emerging market crisis is back. And this time it’s serious

An Indonesian man reads a newspaper featuring an article about US President-elect Donald Trump at a stall on November 10, 2016 in Medan, Indonesia.

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An Indonesian man reads a newspaper featuring an article about US President-elect Donald Trump at a stall on November 10, 2016 in Medan, Indonesia.

Markets have a very short attention span. Like babies, they move on quickly from one toy, or in this case an event, to another.

For instance, markets seem to have moved on from the formation of the “Fragile Five,” a group of countries that suffered heavily when the U.S. Federal Reserve started to roll back its bond-buying program in 2013. Made up of Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa, this group was marked by heavy currency depreciation, high current account deficits and political instability at home.

The slump in commodity prices and fears of a Chinese slowdown kept the pressure on these economies. However, they have started to see a comeback; in India and Indonesia, for example, a change in government has led to political and economic reforms. Investors started crowding this space and inflows into funds with exposure to these markets increased.

But markets are feeling a sense of deja vu. Blame it on a stronger dollar, escalating tensions since President Donald Trump came to power, worries over a full-fledged trade war with China or rising interest rates in the U.S., this time around the crisis seems to have entered a new phase.

The damage is far more widespread. The crisis has engulfed countries across the globe — from economies in South America, to Turkey, South Africa and some of the bigger economies in Asia, such as India and China. A number of these countries are seeing their currency fall to record levels, high inflation and unemployment, and in some cases, escalating tensions with the United States.


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