Broadly speaking, 2013 was a forgettable year for emerging markets investors. The Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM), the two largest emerging markets ETFs by assets, are down an average of 6.5%.
Painting a picture of just disenchanted investors are with emerging markets ETFs, five rank among the 10 worst ETFs for 2013 outflows. That list includes, VWO, EEM, the iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWZ), the iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF (NYSEArca: EMB) and the iShares China Large-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: FXI). [EM Bond ETFs Look to a Better 2014]
Goldman Sachs cautioned investors not to set their hopes too high for developing world equities or bonds in 2014. In a report titled “Emerging Markets: As the Tide Goes Out,” Goldman advised that investors with a “moderate” tolerance for risk reduce their exposure by one-third, from 9 percent to 6 percent of overall portfolios, CNBC reported.
Goldman is particularly pessimistic on China, Brazil and Russia, three of the four BRIC nations, citing overinvolvement of governments in their economies, increasing reliance on commodities and unfavorable demographic trends, CNBC reported.
Stocks in China and Russia are among the least expensive in the developed world, but there is evidence that some professional investors have already taken the bait. A recent Bank of America-Merrill Lynch survey shows Russia and China, in that order, are the two most popular developing economies among the survey’s participants. [China ETFs Could Get Even Cheaper]
Despite the low valuations, ETFs tracking those countries have not done much over the past 90 days. FXI is down 1.8% over that time while the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX) is lower by 1.6%.