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Emerging-Market Risk and Reward

NEW YORK – One definition of an emerging-market economy is that its political risks are higher, and its policy credibility lower, than in advanced economies. After the financial crisis, when emerging-market economies continued to grow robustly, that definition seemed obsolete; now, with the recent turbulence in emerging economies driven in part by weaker economic-policy credibility and growing political uncertainty, it seems as relevant as ever.

Consider the so-called Fragile Five: India, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, and South Africa. All have in common not only economic and policy weaknesses (twin fiscal and current-account deficits, slowing growth and rising inflation, sluggish structural reforms), but also presidential or parliamentary elections this year. Many other emerging economies – Ukraine, Argentina, Venezuela, Russia, Hungary, Thailand, and Nigeria – also face significant political and/or social uncertainties and civil unrest.