Post-crisis markets evoke period before first World War

  • Article by: SIMON KENNEDY , Bloomberg News
  • Updated: October 12, 2013 - 8:53 PM

Research shows that capital is moving freely across borders, creating a more interdependent global economy.

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. U.S. stocks rose, after the benchmark index's biggest two-day slump since June, amid optimism that Janet Yellen will not rush to withdraw stimulus and signs that lawmakers could raise the debt ceiling. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Photo: Scott Eells, Bloomberg

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Global capital markets are more integrated than at any time since the late 19th century, new research suggests.

Nonresident ownership of domestic bonds in emerging markets has increased since the financial crisis, Simon Quijano-Evans, head of emerging-markets research at Commerzbank AG, said in an Oct. 8 report. Almost half of Hungary’s debt is held by foreigners, doubling from 2010, while overseas ownership of Polish, Turkish, Mexican and Russian debt also has jumped.

“A tough task, but we should have plenty of room for optimism, given the ever-increasing global integration at both a human and economic level,” Quijano-Evans said.

To him, it recalls the period more than a century ago when people moved freely around Europe without the need of a passport. That age ended with World War I.

It’s not the only example of interdependence that has formed through the financial crisis. The share of developed market exports going to developing nations rose to 30 percent last year from 23 percent in 2007, while industrial countries became more dependent on foreign workers.

The number of migrants stood at 120 million in 2010, compared with fewer than 80 million in 1990. Remittances sent home by workers from emerging markets now account for as much as 20 percent of gross domestic product in some African countries and 10 percent for the Philippines. Even Germany receives $14 billion a year from its diaspora.

“Rather than cause divisions, the crisis years have highlighted how interdependent developed markets and emerging markets have become, substantially increasing the profile of emerging markets,” said Quijano-Evans, a former official in Thailand’s Ministry of Industry.

More worried is Joachim Fels, co-chief global economist at Morgan Stanley in London. He suggested in a Sept. 30 report to clients that the globalization push of recent decades is weakening as it did a century ago.

“I wonder whether just as 1913 marked the end of the first Golden Age of globalization that had begun in 1870, 2013 may mark the end of our age of globalization, which accelerated since the 1980s and 1990s after many emerging markets opened up to international trade and capital flows,” said Fels.

“I’m not predicting the world wars, mass sufferings and economic depressions of the three dark decades following 1913, but I do worry about a creeping trend toward a de-globalization of economic activity and capital flows.”

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