Emerging Markets

Emerging world: Heading for contagious credit crisis?

Major emerging markets (EMs) like Brazil and Russia could be at risk of a widespread credit crisis—that could impact the world's financial markets, experts warn.

ING Investment Management warned in March that banks and companies in some emerging markets could topple if their currencies remained under pressure and capital outflows continue.

"This pressure threatens to bring the fundamentally weakest countries into deep economic and political trouble," said M.J. Bakkum, senior emerging markets strategist at ING, in a research note.

"Brazil, Russia and Turkey are the most vulnerable. It is not impossible that serious corporate defaults happen or even that banks fall over in one of these countries. For the first time since 2002, we should consider the risk of contagion in the emerging world, with possibly implications for global financial markets."

Aerial view of Christ the Redeemer statue, in Rio de Janeiro, June 26, 2014.
Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

On Friday, Barclays cut its outlook for all major EM economies, with the exception of India, which it upgraded, and Indonesia, which it left unchanged.

It forecast that EMs as a whole would decelerate to post average annual gross domestic product growth from 4.8 percent of 4.5 percent in 2015, with three of the four "BRIC" economies—Brazil, Russia and China—seen slowing.

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"This contrasts with the notable acceleration in advanced economies' growth and implies the narrowest EM-DM (development market) growth gap since the early 2000s," said analysts led by Christian Keller in Barclays Research's quarterly EM report.

On Friday, Capital Economics said that the global economy was "unlikely" to return to pre-crisis rates of growth without a revival in the BRICs.

"Because of these slowdowns the BRICs are now contributing 1 percentage point less to global GDP growth than was the case in 2007—a much larger drag than has come from the G-7 economies," said Economist Neil Shearing in a Capital Economics research note

Both Russia and Brazil are seen suffering because of falling commodity prices and troublesome politics, with the former seen falling into steep recession this year, and the latter seen either shrinking or posting very weak growth.

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Meanwhile, Asia's growth engine of China is seen falling further behind the 10.5 percent growth it averaged yearly from 2000 to 2010.

Growth in India is seen accelerating under reformist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but not reaching the 7.5 percent averaged in the first decade of the century.