The emerging markets

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Over the last few decades world stock markets are growing enormously and the stock markets particularly in developing countries represent a large share of this boom. Investors are venturing into the world s newest markets and some are seeing handsome returns but are developing countries themselves reaping any benefits from their stock markets? The evidence indicates that they are.

Over the past 10 years, the total value of stocks listed in all of the world s stock markets rose from $4.7 trillion to $15.2 trillion, while the Share of total world capitalization represented by the emerging markets jumped from less than 4 percent to almost 13 percent. Trading in the emerging markets also surged: the value of shares traded climbed from less than 3 percent of the world total in 1985 to 17 percent in 1995.

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The emerging markets have attracted the interest of international investors while raising a number of critical questions for policy makers in developing countries: Do stock markets affect overall economic development and, if so, how? What is the relationship, between stock markets and banks in fostering economic growth? And, how can developing countries benefit from stock market growth?

Impact on development:

Do stock markets affect overall economic development?

Although some analysts view stock markets in developing countries as  casinos that have little positive impact on economic growth, recent evidence suggests that stock markets can give a big boost to economic development.

Stock markets may affect economic activity through the creation of liquidity. Many profitable investments require a long-term commitment of capital, but investors are often reluctant to relinquish control of their savings for long periods. Liquid equity markets make investment less risky and more attractive because they allow savers to acquire asset equity and to sell it quickly and cheaply if they need access to their savings or want to alter their portfolios.

At the same time, companies enjoy permanent access to capital raised through equity issues. By facilitating longer-term, more profitable investments, liquid markets improve the allocation of capital and enhance prospects for long-term economic growth. Further, by making investment less risky and more profitable, stock market liquidity can also lead to more investment. Put succinctly, investors will come if they can leave.

There are alternative views about the effect of liquidity on long-term economic growth, however. Some analysts argue that very liquid markets encourage investor myopia. Because they make it easy for dissatisfied investors to sell quickly, liquid markets may weaken investors commitment and reduce investors incentives to exert corporate control by over- seeing managers and monitoring firm performance and potential. According to this view, enhanced stock market liquidity may actually hurt economic growth.

The empirical evidence, however, strongly supports the belief that greater stock market liquidity boosts or at least precedes economic growth.

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