TIME BRIC

BRICS Nations Agree to Create Own Development Bank

Vladimir Putin, Jacob Zuma, Narendra Modi, Dilma Rousseff
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, India’'s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, second left, and Brazil’'s President Dilma Rousseff, right, greet South African President Jacob Zuma, second right, after his speech during the BRICS 2014 summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. Silvia Izquierdo—AP

The New Development Bank will have an African regional branch in South Africa and eventually other nations would be able to participate

(FORTALEZA, Brazil) — The leaders of five emerging market powers said at a summit Tuesday that they gave final agreement to creating their own development bank worth $100 billion that will have its headquarters in China.

The first president of the New Development Bank will be from India and the position will rotate every five years among Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — the so-called BRICS nations, a joint statement from the leaders said.

BRICS leaders conferred in a closed session earlier in the day at their conference in northeastern Brazil, then announced concrete plans for the bank at an afternoon session open to the press.

The new bank is seen as a strong push by the BRICS against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which the developing world has long complained it far too U.S.- and European-centric.

“Based on sound banking principles, the NDB will strengthen the cooperation among our countries and will supplement the efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global development,” the statement said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass that the decision “confirmed that BRICS members, while speaking against unilateral actions in the world economy and politics, are not seeking confrontation but propose working out collective approaches toward the resolution of any problems.”

The New Development Bank will have an African regional branch in South Africa and eventually other nations would be able to participate.

The statement also alluded to Brazil’s and India’s longstanding quest to overhaul the United Nations Security Council, of which China and Russia are two of five permanent members with veto power. Those nations have in the past proved reluctant to endorse Brazil’s and India’s ambitions, but Tuesday’s statement said the BRICS nations “support their aspiration to play a greater role in the U.N.”

Though exhaustive, the joint statement largely steered clear of potentially divisive issues, like the conflict in Ukraine between pro-government and pro-Russia factions.

It touched only briefly on the matter, saying the five countries expressed their “deep concern” with the situation in Ukraine and urged “comprehensive dialogue, the de-escalation of the conflict and restraint from all the actors involved, with a view to finding a peaceful political solution, in full compliance with the U.N. Charter and universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

MONEY Emerging Markets

Why India’s Stock Market is Soaring

While equities in Brazil, Russia, and China continue to sink like BRICS, India's market and economy are on the road to recovery.

Although the world’s largest democracy has been hobbled by inflation, a declining currency, sub-par growth and difficult business environment, the pro-business Bharatiya Janata Party that just won an epic election in India has engendered optimism that the country can turn around its sagging economic scenario.

It’s time to increase your exposure to India’s stock market.

India’s equity market has been perking up of late, something that can’t be said for the other so-called “BRIC” economies of Brazil, Russia and China, which collectively make up nearly half of the market value of the emerging markets.

^SINU Chart

^SINU data by YCharts

The $1.3 billion WisdomTree India Earnings ETF , the largest exchange-traded fund investing in Indian stocks, has climbed 22% over the past 12 months through May 29 and is up 26% year-to-date. The fund holds large companies such as Reliance Industries and Tata Motors. It charges annual expenses of 0.83% of assets.

For a play on smaller Indian companies, consider the Market Vectors India Small-Cap ETF , up nearly 31% over the past 12 months and nearly 46% year-to-date. It spots an expense ratio of 0.93% holds stocks such as Ramco Cements and Hexaware Technologies.

Before digging in too deeply, be aware of the risks of investing in India.

* The bureaucratic business environment is tough to navigate, as well as corrupt.

* Stocks listed on Indian exchanges are volatile and will continue to be. The WisdomTree fund’s returns, for example, have been all over the board. After climbing 95% and 20% in 2009 and 2010, respectively, the fund lost 40% in 2011 and 9% last year. This is a reason India shouldn’t dominate your global stock holdings, but represent a “satellite” position that includes other emerging economies.

* The Indian economy is still sluggish relative to its historic standards. In the last fiscal year, economic growth slowed to a 10-year low of 4.5% from a high of 10.4% in 2010, according to The World Bank. If new Prime Minister Narendra Modi can pull off a turnaround, demand will increase for banking services and credit, construction, consumer goods, and vehicles. The Modi-led BJP government may also ramp up trade with China and other growing Asian economies.

* Inflation, hovering around 10%, continues to hamper the Indian economy. The central bank has raised interest rates three times since September 2013. Along with a pronounced drop in the rupee against the U.S. dollar, the country has been stung by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s pullback on its bond-buying stimulus, which had pumped billions into developing nations like India.

Neena Mishra, director of ETF Research for Zacks Investments in Chicago, sees India as a good long-term investment since renowned economist Raghuram Rajan took over as the governor of the central bank of India.

“The central bank has taken a number of positive steps in the past few months, towards bringing down inflation, liberalizing financial markets and strengthening the monetary policy framework,” Mishra says.

Although tangible economic progress seems slow to investors in the West, India’s development and social progress is largely a success story that will accelerate if economic growth picks up.

Growth is expected to increase to nearly 5% in the most recent fiscal year; to almost 6% in the 2014-2015 fiscal year; and 6.5% the following year. If those forecasts prove true, India would trail only China as the largest and fastest-growing developing country.

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