(Bloomberg News) In the past decade, mutual funds poured almost $70 billion into Brazil, Russia, India and China, stocks more than quadrupled gains in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the economies grew four times faster than America's.
Now Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which coined the term BRIC, says the best is over for the largest emerging markets.
BRIC funds recorded $15 billion of outflows this year as the MSCI BRIC Index sank 24 percent, EPFR Global data show. The gauge, which beat the S&P 500 by 390 percentage points from November 2001 through September 2010, has trailed the measure for five straight quarters, the longest stretch since Goldman Sachs forecast the countries would join the U.S. and Japan as the top economies by 2050.
"In emerging markets, we're waiting for things to get worse before they get better," said Michael Shaoul, the chairman of Marketfield Asset Management in New York who predicted in February that developing-nation stocks would fall this year. The $845 million Marketfield Fund has topped 97 percent of peers in 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
BRIC indexes may fall another 20 percent next year, buffeted by the liquidity squeeze stemming from Europe's sovereign debt crisis, Arjuna Mahendran, the Singapore-based head of Asia investment strategy at HSBC Private Bank, which oversees about $499 billion, said in an interview. Nations such as Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey may overshadow the BRICS in the next five years as they expand from lower levels of growth, he said.
"The slowdown we're seeing in the BRICs will continue for most of the first half," Mahendran said. "Compared to the U.S., corporate profits haven't been that good as companies face higher wages, higher interest rates and currency volatility, and at best, we'll only start to see the effects of monetary policy loosening in the second half of 2012."
Gross domestic product in the four countries rose at the slowest pace in almost two years last quarter and Goldman Sachs said this month that their potential economic growth rates have probably peaked because of a smaller supply of new workers. Even as Brazilian and Russian policy makers start to lower borrowing costs, profit growth in the MSCI index will slow to 5 percent next year from 19 percent in 2011, trailing the S&P 500 by five percentage points, according to more than 12,000 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Average economic growth in the BRIC countries will decelerate to 6.1 percent next year from a high of 9.7 percent in 2007, according to September estimates by the International Monetary Fund. That would narrow the gap over America's expansion to 4.3 percentage points, the smallest since 2004, the IMF data show. Global GDP may increase 4 percent next year, restrained by 1.1 percent growth in the euro area, the Washington-based fund said.
Slowing exports to Europe and government restrictions on real-estate investment are curbing the expansion in China, the biggest emerging economy. India's growth has been hampered by the fastest interest-rate increases since 1935 and the rupee's decline to a record low, which fueled inflation and deterred foreign investment. Brazil and Russia, whose growth during the past decade was spurred by surging commodity demand, have been hurt by falling metals prices and the slowdown in China.