Emerging markets were supposed to keep the global economy humming despite the U.S. downturn. But this year through the end of October, emerging markets as measured by the Russell Emerging Markets index plunged 55% following a massive 27.5% drop last month. 

"Those countries that were previously engines of growth stalled, falling by a similar magnitude as their dramatic rise," said Rob Balkema, portfolio analyst for Russell Investments. "The BRIC index shows a particularly wild ride for those four countries, leading to a 60% loss for the past year. But a wider view shows a three-year annualized return of 3.9%."

That's certainly a huge comedown from the substantial double-digit annualized gains in the BRIC index-and many global and emerging markets indexes-during the prior three years before the start of 2008.  

Earlier this year, many analysts believed Brazil and Russia were the place to be within the BRIC complex thanks to significantly cheaper valuations vis-à-vis China and India. But the Russell Brazil index lost 52.7% and the Russell Russia index dropped 65.7% as of the end of October. The indexes for China and India also lost more than 50% each.  

The Russell Global index sank 20.5% in October. 

Of the 63 indexes representing individual countries in the global index, only the Russell Latvia index (4.4%) was in the green in October. Among the "better performing" indexes last month were Pakistan (-3.5%), Morocco (-11.7%), Switzerland (-13.4%), Japan (-14.4%), Israel (-16.6%), Malaysia (-17.5%), Jordan (-17.7%), the United States (-17.7%) and Taiwan (-18%).