Willis Sparks, Global Macro Analyst at Eurasia Group, returned to the Stamford CFA Society for a third consecutive year in a row to update us on the current investment environment around the world, seen through the prism of political risk. As always, he had a lot to say, and reminded us why he has ranked as one of the most popular and respected speakers in our events circuit. The event was well attended by such representatives of companies as Forbes Magazine, Deloitte, FactSet and UBS.
The discussion focused on the impact of politics on financial markets around the world. With the slowdown in growth both in the U.S. and European Union, the investment prospects are brighter in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the group called the N-11 (Next 11, which includes a wide variety of emerging markets like South Korea, Iran, Turkey, Mexico, Indonesia and the Philippines).
The business opportunities in China are clearly laid out in their new 5-year plan: infrastructure development and strategies to manage the ‘greening’ of the country as the country moves towards a domestically focused growth story.
The untold good news story is the emergence of Africa as a business opportunity. Compared to India, the African story is attractive – both demographies have about a billion people. In 2008, for example, demand for goods and services was 35% higher in Africa. Also, 40% of the African population lives in cities, much higher than in India (and comparable to China). There are also 320 million telecoms subscribers in Africa, larger than the whole population of the U.S. Non-commodity exporters (ex-oil, gas, metals, minerals) are also attractive – Nigeria, for example has a larger service sector than its oil sector). Egypt and Nigeria are in the Next-11 group.
If you have any more reactions to last night’s presentation, or if you have other presentation topics for future events, please leave a comment below.