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Opportunities and risks in emerging market equities

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Emerging markets (EM) equities have delivered double-digit gains in 12 of the past 20 calendar years, including four of the last five. But even with strong absolute returns, the asset class has materially underperformed U.S. stocks in the most recent decade, with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index lagging the S&P 500 Index in eight of 10 calendar years and by more than 10 percentage points on an annualized basis for the period as a whole.

These more recent relative results do not negate the value of maintaining a strategic allocation to EM equities as part of a long-term, diversified portfolio. That said, it’s worth asking what has been driving EM trends of late — and more importantly, what future performance might look like in the short term. Nuveen’s equity team offers its perspective on these topics and a cautiously optimistic conclusion in the analysis that follows.

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