Calling on Colombia for a 2016 Rebound

Emerging markets stocks and exchange traded funds notched another year of disappointment in 2015 and nowhere was that disappointment more pronounced than in Latin America. Latin America exchange traded funds dithered through another year of dreadful performances at the hands of slumping commodities prices.

For all the wrong reasons, the Global X FTSE Colombia 20 ETF (NYSEArca: GXG) was a standout among single-country Latin America ETFs last year. A standout because the performance of Colombian stocks in 2015 was unusually poor.

Colombia, South America’s second-largest economy, is a major producer of silver, copper and, to a lesser extent, gold. But to top it all off, Colombia is being punished by faltering oil prices as well. Those factors and others have made GXG one of the worst-performing non-leveraged ETFs of any type this year.

It was just a few years ago when Colombia was one of the brightest emerging markets stars, but slumping commodities prices have dimmed that light. Last year, Colombia’s central bank had to hike interest rates to cool inflation. Two years ago, Fitch Ratings upgraded its long-term foreign issuer default rating on Colombia, South America’s second-largest economy, to BBB from BBB-.

“Major catalysts to the economic struggle in the Latin American region include the current economic struggle in China and the decline in commodity prices. China has strategically resorted to domestic consumption in order to spark economic growth. This is not good news for a region that heavily consumes Chinese exports,” according to a Seeking Alpha analysis of GXG.

The largest Colombia ETF slumped nearly 42% last year and inflation there is on the rise, forcing the country’s central bank to boost interest rates.