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The term "emerging markets" is now more than 25 years old and has come to define wide swaths of the world undergoing rapid economic change. Dozens of countries fall under the label even though they are evolving at their own pace and with their own twists on economic development.
Now, as many emerging markets show signs of a strong and growing middle-class population, observers wonder whether the term has lost some of its meaning. Initially, the phrase applied to fast-growing economies in Asia and was used in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. As global interest in market-driven economies grew, investors began to look toward Latin America for emerging markets and eventually at countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, China, India and Russia.
"Once you start to put so many countries in the same category, the category loses meaning," says Wharton management professor Mauro Guillen. "While South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan share characteristics, once you put them in a bucket with India, Mexico, Argentina, Indonesia and Poland, it's no longer meaningful. The term 'emerging markets' has become a victim of its own success."
Source: Wharton Business School, http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu
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