Have emerging markets emerged?

By Elissa Bayer, December 16, 2010

At what point will we say that the emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) have arrived?

Clearly, we are besieged with information as to what these countries are doing, who they are trading with and how their middle classes are prospering and buying up luxury goods at a phenomenal rate.

Burberry's recent figures, among others, reflect this and with over 50 shops overseas and more planned, they are one of the great success stories of 2010.

In Beijing, Chinese consumers snake around the block every Saturday with their enthusiasm to buy up what is on offer at the Western designer shops.

In addition to the BRIC emerging markets, we are also now seeing the so-called frontier markets: Croatia, Kuwait and even Zimbabwe.

These countries have cash and commodities and want to trade to buy in what they cannot produce. It is an exciting prospect although one thing which is not quite the same is their regulatory regime - examining a company's credentials in Africa can be challenging.

To provide some figures for China– in 2002 according to the Ernst & Young guide, the total value of shares traded in Hong Kong was US$194m (£123m) and in 2009 was US$1.5bn(£950m). In Shanghai the figures were US$ 211m (£134m) in 2002 compared with US$5 billion (£3bn) in 2009. The market capitalisation of shares quoted in Shanghai was US$306m (£194m) in 2002 and US$2.7bn(£1.7bn)in 2009.

The increases are large and so far unstoppable.

Admittedly, there is a question about the bubble in these markets as more Western companies are moving in - Tesco is already strong in Thailand. The new boss of Marks & Spencer, Mark Bolland, has closed down the amount of lines that M&S were offering in the UK foodhalls, which was a Sir Stuart Rose initiative, and is looking to opening in India. France's Carrefour is already there and the list of names goes on. That said, Goldman Sachs estimates that in 20 years time emerging markets could account for one half of the total global market capitalisation.

I think it is safe to say that these BRIC markets have emerged, rather than emerging, so perhaps we could run a competition for a new term.

Elissa Bayer is director of Private Clients at Charles Stanley

Last updated: 3:25pm, December 16 2010