In the early years of the twentieth century, the British Empire was seen as the strongest force in the world. It ruled India, much of Africa, and the highly industrialised UK economy seemed unstoppable. But one world war, and then another, had this country on its knees. And, over the horizon, America was the new emerging giant.
Now, at the time, the British could have seen the US as the enemy. But instead it embraced it, and built partnerships and connections with it as it took over the world.
Shanghai already puts cities like New York in the shade
Stock markets in both America and Europe stormed ahead in the twentieth century. Now, in the twenty-first century, China and India are the new emerging giants. And the West has to decide whether to fight them or embrace them.
Now everyone is familiar with this story. But what we may not realise is how fast this change is happening. Already, China has 7 of the 20 most valuable companies worldwide. If you want to see what the developing world is today, just visit Shanghai and you will see a city that puts New York and London in the shade.
Yet, analyse the progression of the Hang Seng index since the turn of the century, and you will find a stock market that has been in the doldrums, rising only slightly if at all. The Chinese and Indian stock markets are amongst the cheapest in the world.
This is why I am a firm believer in the investment credentials of China and India, and have substantial holdings in this region. I think that, after a long and difficult bear market that has lasted 17 years, we are on the verge of an astonishing global equity bull market. And that boom should be centred on China and India.
This is the ultimate contrarian play
And with share prices in emerging markets as cheap as they have been for the past decade, there has never been a better time to invest in my opinion. After all, you don’t buy when stock markets are already rocketing ahead and anyone and everyone is investing, but when people are saying they wouldn’t touch these markets with a barge pole, yet the fundamental strengths are all still there. From my point of view, investing in China and India is the ultimate contrarian play.
And I wouldn’t invest just a small amount of money in this sector. The bulk of my cash is invested in emerging markets. There are many popular funds to choose from, but I have a preference for investment trusts, as they are trading on particularly heavy discounts at the moment, meaning you get that much more for your money.
My picks are Fidelity China Special Situations and JP Morgan Indian Investment Trust, but there are several high performers you can choose from.
But remember, there will always be ups and downs, scares and panics with these type of investments. You have to be prepared to ride out the storms with the firm hope that, in the long run, you will do well.