Emerging-Market Resilience

NEW YORK – With most of the world focused on economic instability and anemic growth in the advanced countries, developing countries, with the possible exception of China, have received relatively little attention. But, as a group, emerging-market economies have been negatively affected by the recent downturn in developed countries. Can they rebound on their own?

The major emerging economies were the world’s main growth engines following the eruption of the financial crisis in 2008, and, to some extent, they still are. But their resilience has always been a function of their ability to generate enough incremental aggregate demand to support their growth, without having to make up for a large loss of demand in developed countries.

A combination of negligible (or even negative) growth in Europe and a significant growth slowdown in the United States has now created that loss, undermining emerging economies’ exports. Europe is a major export destination for many developing countries, and is China’s largest foreign market. China, in turn, is a major market for final products, intermediate goods (including those used to produce finished exports), and commodities. The ripple effect from Europe’s stalling economy has thus spread rapidly to the rest of Asia and beyond.

Moreover, not only is the tradable sector of Japan’s economy highly vulnerable to a slowdown in China, but the recent conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands raises the prospect of economic decoupling. Apart from that, Japanese economic performance is set to remain weak, because the non-tradable side is not a strong growth engine.