In other words, the emerging-market investment paradigm, or the BRIC model, may be over.
Toward the end of last week, the U.S. stock market sold off nearly 500 points. Much of the blame has been placed on the collapse of the emerging-market currencies. Correct. The emerging-market tail was wagging the U.S. stock market dog.
We all know the Fed is playing a role in this as it tapers its bond purchases and injects less new cash into the economy. In recent years, some of that Fed-created excess liquidity has gone into emerging-market investments. But now, as the Fed begins to wind down, it's as if the tide is going out to sea and revealing all the countries that left their bathing suits behind.
In other words, the left turn of many emerging-market nations is now naked for all to see. High inflation, crashing currencies, trade protectionism and economic redistribution are not the policies that grew these economies over the years and attracted investment. (South Korea, by the way, is a notable exception.)
You can go down the list. Argentina is on the verge of collapse under the left-wing populism of the Kirchner regime. Travelling leftward from Lula to Rousseff, Brazil has built a huge current-account deficit while pulling back on free trade. In India, free-market policies have stalled, and if the Gandhis return to power, so will their socialist approach. And for various political and cultural reasons, the Erdogan government in Turkey has been moving hard to the left, all while the Turkish economy deteriorates. Turkey's central bank may defend the lira with higher interest rates, but that tightening will worsen the economy and the political situation.
China, it's important to note, has a different problem than these other emerging markets. The Peoples Bank of China is cutting back on liquidity and credit in the so-called shadow banking system. And while the Chinese economy is not plunging into recession, its growth has dropped from 12 to 7 percent. China's slowdown remains a threat to the U.S. as well as the other emerging markets.