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How Can We Spot the Next Economic Miracle?

December 26, 2013, 12:00 AM
Miracle

Depending on how you define them, emerging markets represent anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of the global population. The conventional wisdom has been that the balance of economic power is steadily shifting, as poor nations are rapidly catching up to the developed world. 

However, according to Ruchir Sharma, head of Emerging Markets and Global Macro at Morgan Stanley Investment Management and the author of Breakout Nations, this shift is "relative and unspectacular." To put it another way, growth in countries like India has been disappointing precisely because growth has been less than spectacular.

If a country like India is going to be on the move, it needs to get a lot of people out of poverty. To do that, India needs to grow at a much faster rate than the U.S. However, per capita income is still very low in India, and therefore, this "miracle economy" is in trouble.

Sharma's nuanced view of the shifting balance of global economic power comes from spending time on the ground in emerging markets. In a lesson on Big Think Edge, the only forum on YouTube designed to help you get the skills you need to be successful in a rapidly changing world, Sharma says that in order to identify whether a country is doing well or not you need to watch what the locals are doing. The locals offer better information than global investors because they have their ear to the ground. When the locals vote with their money, that is the key message to pay attention to. "If the locals are taking money out of the country," Sharma says, "that’s not a good sign."

Sharma’s logic, of course, is not only relevant to emerging markets. The essence of his advice is to consider the trade-offs between "armchair data and analysis" on the one hand, and "in the field research" on the other hand. 

Sign up for a free trial subscription on Big Think Edge and watch Sharma's lesson here:

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