Emerging Markets Outflows: Worse Before it Gets Better

Few if any anecdotes and statistics pertaining to emerging markets exchange traded funds in 2014 are positive. That is particularly true of fund flows data.

As of Jan. 30, “more than $7 billion flowed from ETFs investing in developing-nation assets in January, the most since the securities were created,” report Lu Wang and Ye Xie for Bloomberg.

That data point jibes with a not often seen, but still very real fact: Investors have pulled $8.5 billion from U.S.-listed ETFs this year. Of the $8.5 billion investors have pulled from U.S.-listed ETFs since the start of 2014, $7.6 billion has come out of equity funds while bond funds are lighter by $247 million. Despite improve price action in gold, commodities have shed $624 million, according to ConvergEx data. [Surprising ETF Outflows]

Last year, five of the 10 worst ETFs in terms of yearly outflows were emerging markets ETFs. Two of those five offenders, the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM), have bled a combined $8.4 billion this year as of Monday. [Rough January for Emerging Markets Outflows]

Due to the intimate correlation between the performance of emerging markets stocks and flows in and out of funds that hold those equities, some market observers see more pain ahead for ETFs tracking developing world equities.

“Since cumulative inflows into Emering market equity funds reached a peak of $220bn in February last year, $60bn of funds have fled elsewhere,” writes Societe Generale analyst Alain Bokobza, Michael Ide reports for ValueWalk. “Given the exceptionally strong link between EM equity performance and flows, we think it plausible that funds are currently withdrawing double that from EM equity.”