Reproduzco aquí por comodidad un artículo muy interesante de mi Maestro Marvin Zonis sobre las principales amenazas del mundo libre, un resumen brillante de una clase magistral de geopolítica, actual y con “final feliz”.
 
Comparto con Marvin su visión optimista y su consejo de “invertir ahora”, “cuando hay sangre en las calles”, como decía Edmund de Rothschild en el siglo 18, “aunque la sangre sea la tuya”.
 
Kazaksthan, Slovakia y Bosnia Herzegovina han sido los 3 principales beneficiarios de un sensible incremento de la inversión extranjera directa entre los primeros semestres de 2014 y de 2015, seguidos por 2 tigres del sur este Asiático (India y Thailand).
 
Sin embargo, en países con muchos conflictos abiertos (como Egypto) la inversión extranjera se ha mantenido casi intacta, mientras si es cierto que en  Turquía, China o Saudi Arabia el flujo ha disminuido, respectivamente un 25, 26 y 51%, éste sigue siendo muy relevante y se ha disparado globalmente hacía los países emergentes al finalizar 2015.
 
El futuro es mejor de lo que pensamos y el desarrollo exponencial de las tecnologías, el avance de la ingeniería genética, robótica y de la inteligencia artificial harán abundantes lo que hoy es escaso, como el agua potable, la energía renovable o las curas a enfermedades incurables hoy. 
 
La semana pasada Alphago, una máquina de Google, le ha ganado 4 a 1 al campeón mundial de “Go”, un juego muy humano, con un tablero con más posibilidades que átomos en el universo y donde es muy difícil saber quien está ganando. Si las máquinas aprenden a esta velocidad es muy probable que en 20 años una especie de píldora cure la mayoría de los cánceres o nos permita aprender Chino. 
 
El terrorismo de todo color, el fanatismo, la incompetencia de muchos gobernantes o aspirantes, son males terribles, pero menores si los comparamos con el progreso costante, masivo, imparable de la mayoría de la humanidad, se mida por donde se mida.
 
Por cierto, la foto que encabeza este post no es de Marvin, sino representa una entrevista interesantísima a David Ignatius (director asociado y columnista del Washington Post) por The Chicago Council sobre las razones del terror en Bruselas y Francia, muy relacionada con éste artículo (y con Marvin).

Business Investment In A World Beset By Anxiety

By Marvin Zonis
“Folks are dumb where I come from,
They ain’t had any learning.
Still they’re happy as can be

Doin’ what comes naturally.”

Irving Berlin wrote the music and lyrics for the 1946 musical, Annie Get Your Gun that starred Ethel Merman. It was a smash hit with over 1100 performances in New York alone.The advice in the song seems to me to be perfect wisdom for businesses today. “Doin’ what comes naturally” for business is to seek ever expansive markets at ever lower real production costs commensurate with levels of assumed risk.

That is precisely what businesses should be doing now despite the chilling terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels and what appears to be other insurmountable global obstacles.

China is the throes of a massive growth slowdown and a massive distribution of political power. President Xi is centralizing power in his hands in a fashion not seen since the days of Mao while militarizing the South China Sea.

The countries that had benefitted from China’s rise by supplying it will all manner of raw materials and minerals find their export revenues slashed and their economies dramatically weakened. What looked like the ‘Great African Boom’ has turned into more of growth as usual.

EU members are struggling with the refugee crisis, a possible Brexit, a possible Grexit, an increasingly authoritarian Poland and Hungary, a menacing Vladimir Putin, the threat of ISIS terrorism, and slow economic growth.

The Middle East continues to live through an Islamic civil war with Iran and Saudi Arabia supporting their proxies and also intervening directly in the wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Power in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has flowed into the hands of the 30 year old, inexperienced son of King Salman, who has insisted on maintaining oil production levels. The result has been turmoil in global oil markets.

Even the United States, the bastion of political stability, has been shaken by the Trump phenomenon, the staggering increase in the wealth and incomes of the already rich, the hollowing out of the middle class, the slow growth of productivity, and the increase in the death rate of middle aged whites.

“Doin’ what comes naturally” for business in conditions of what looks like global political and economic turmoil would seem to suggest it’s time to batten down the hatches; to seal every company from the variety of risks that are everywhere in the world.

But to the contrary. It was Baron Rothschild, the 18th century member of the legendary family, who argued, “Buy when there’s blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own.” That explanation for what it meant to be a contrarian investor is appropriate for today.

For there is an entirely different story that can be told about the world and that story argues for a far more ambitious stance towards the global economy. Businesses should be investing now to acquire market access, shut down competitors, and boost profits. Globalization has not run its course but will strengthen once again as the economy passes through this current period of turmoil, driven by the inexorable logic of larger markets and facilitated by the exponential growth of technology.

But why not wait until then? For one thing, firms that operate in the dollar economy can acquire the currencies of many other countries at bargain basement rates. For another, in the slowdown, foreign investment has been particularly welcomed by most developed and emerging markets.

Where to go? One way is to look at where other firms have made foreign direct investments. According to the Financial Times, these are the developing countries that received more foreign direct investment in the first half of 2015 than the comparable period of 2014 ($ Millions):

Country
1H 2014
1H 2015
Change
Kazakhstan
699.30
2509.35
258.84%
Slovakia
524.46
1739.28
231.63%
Bosnia-Herzegovina
862.06
2834.47
228.80%
India
12286.00
30593.29
149.01%
Thailand
1734.42
4078.89
135.17%
Myanmar
1893.10
4066.19
114.79%
Bangladesh
755.37
1592.80
110.86%
South Africa
1749.14
3101.52
77.32%
Indonesia
8437.32
13665.99
61.97%
Czech Republic
1468.65
1903.80
29.63%
Taiwan
628.93
796.42
26.63%
Qatar
530.40
619.30
16.76%
Hungary
1685.39
1967.41
16.73%
Vietnam
7504.43
7532.42
0.37%
Other developing countries received substantial investments in the first half of 2015, but less than in the first half of 2014. ($ Millions)
Egypt
5664.00
5659.90
-0.07%
UAE
3486.22
3481.05
-0.15%
Mexico
14451.44
13967.39
-3.35%
Argentina
1480.61
1397.00
-5.65%
Morocco
3097.24
2872.56
-7.25%
Cambodia
794.80
665.94
-16.21%
Romania
2905.59
2413.47
-16.94%
Poland
3884.12
3069.27
-20.98%
Nigeria
6810.25
5211.05
-23.48%
Turkey
3872.29
2907.16
-24.92%
China
37666.24
27805.00
-26.18%
Chile
4633.20
3116.25
-32.74%
Oman
885.80
591.30
-33.25%
Pakistan
5884.30
3894.70
-33.81%
Hong Kong
2372.50
1531.50
-35.45%
Kenya
1484.09
829.56
-44.10%
Russia
5208.62
2806.23
-46.12%
Philippines
5353.21
2788.08
-47.92%
Malaysia
13812.72
7010.37
-49.25%
Saudi Arabia
9590.09
4632.85
-51.69%
Serbia
998.75
452.45
-54.70%
Honduras
524.70
234.40
-55.33%
Colombia
1402.17
622.52
-55.60%
Ghana
2080.73
910.31
-56.25%
Uruguay
575.50
239.60
-58.37%
South Korea
5250.45
1911.38
-63.60%
Brazil
13357.55
4661.78
-65.10%
Dominica Republic
506.72
172.50
-65.96%
Macedonia FYR
673.90
216.80
-67.83%
Iraq
1309.20
316.00
-75.86%
Tunisia
1263.41
274.20
-78.30%
Nicaragua
640.80
131.00
-79.56%
Antigua
2220.60
400.00
-81.99%
Jordan
1619.90
271.30
-83.25%
Peru
5022.90
816.20
-83.75%
Zambia
2485.50
341.70
-86.25%
Panama
7780.89
689.20
-91.14%
Costa Rica
1160.50
94.90
-91.82%
Ethiopia
1781.75
143.70
-91.93%
Croatia
567.59
24.60
-95.67%
Lebanon
1165.80
40.30
-96.54%
Angola
16071.30
214.30
-98.67%
Republic of the Congo
1659.30
5.80
-99.65%
Chad
628.66
0
-100%
Mauritania
1151.70
0
-100%
Montenegro
1096.50
0
-100%
Yemen
509.90
0
-100%
 Source: fDi Markets. *includes estimates
While total capital investment flows to developing countries diminished in the first six months of 2015, the total capital invested was substantial. Many firms are obviously not put off by the perceived increase of global risks.The Institute for International Finance estimates that total private capital inflows to Emerging Markets, in 2015 were $981 billion – substantial – although less than in any year since the global financial crisis.
(https://www.iif.com/publications/capital-flows)Moreover, it appears that as 2015 ended, the flow to emerging markets turned up dramatically.

Aggregate Net Capital Flow And Weighted Exchange Rate Index For Selected Emerging Markets

Capital flows to the developed economies also weakened considerably in 2014:
REGION
FDI INFLOWS
($ BILLION)
2012
2013
2014
Europe
$401
$326
$289
North America
$209
$301
$146
Nonetheless, it is still the case that firms outside Europe and North America were willing to invest billions in developed markets.
Not that Baron Rothschild’s advice need be taken literally. There are streets in which blood flows. Those streets in those countries can be bypassed. But there are a very large number of countries whose economies are still growing substantially, although slower than in the boom days, and whose political risks are not substantially greater than they were.
“Doin’ what comes naturally” – embracing the global economy — is still the best advice.