Europe's Crisis May Be Positive for Middle East: Analysts
Europe's sovereign debt crisis has shown that no asset is 100 percent safe and may be positive for the Middle East, which is also benefiting from an increase in the price of oil, analysts told CNBC Wednesday.
After Greece's debt swap earlier this month, investors took a breather from the rollercoaster that was the debt crisis in the euro zone, and many believe the worst is over, after the European Central Bank injected liquidity through its Long-Term Refinancing Operations.
The European crisis has blurred the distinction between developed and developing markets and has made sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East turn their attention back to their own region, as Europe has proven volatile, David Riley, head of sovereign ratings at Fitch Ratings, told CNBC from Abu Dhabi.
"I think what [the European debt crisis] is partly doing is the recognition that there isn't a sort of risk-free asset that you can just go and park your wealth in and kind of forget about it," Riley said.
"If there's a single lesson that we've learned is that there is no such thing as a risk-free asset and the sooner we all recognize that the better and that does have implications in terms of the way the sovereign funds are operating here."
"I think the assumption that emerging markets are more risky and more volatile again is one of the assumptions that kind of hasn't withstood the test of the crisis," he added.
But Riley warned that challenges were still ahead as protectionist measures that may be put in place in developed markets may hurt emerging countries.
"One of the assumptions that we had pre-financial crisis maybe doesn't hold now. Can we really be sure that globalization will continue?" Riley said, adding that protectionist tendencies have become apparent, particularly in the West.
The turmoil in Syria, combined with the situation in Iran and tension from the Arab Spring still lingering in some countries like Bahrain, may scare some investors away, Philippa Malmgren, president and founder of Principalis Asset Management, said.
But these risks are "manageable and survivable, and one would expect the locals to see the opportunities sooner than the foreigners," she added.
Malmgren said the key to understanding the region is to focus on risks that are not necessarily apparent immediately, such as how food price inflation caused turmoil in the Middle East months later.
"My approach is to focus on the risk that we can't quantify. This area has permitted us to advise our clients differently," she said.