Despite the carnage in the stock markets, if you had put in money in the MSCI India index 10 years ago, your annualized return would have been a healthy 12.78% (as on last Friday). If you had put in your money five years ago, your annualized return would be a respectable 11.97%. That’s well over the rate you would have earned on any fixed income instrument or on fixed deposits over the period, and since long-term capital gains are tax-free, your return would also have been tax-free.
Is this rate of return the result of the scintillating performance of the Indian economy over the last few years? That’s difficult to say, when you look at the other emerging markets that have annualized historical returns far exceeding those from MSCI India over the past 10 years.
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At the top of the list is Turkey, a country nobody has labelled an emerging tiger. But Turkey’s returns over the last five years are lower than India’s, so perhaps economic growth does matter after all. Or does it? MSCI Colombia and MSCI Egypt are next in line after Turkey with the highest annualized 10-year returns. What’s more, they also have five-year annualized returns well above MSCI India’s.
Why, even lowly Pakistan, forced to knock on the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) door for a loan to prevent the country from defaulting on its debt, has a 10-year annualized return of 15.15% on its MSCI index and a respectable annual return of 11.17%, not too much below India’s, over the past five years. Argentina, a country that defaulted on an IMF loan, has an annualized return of 13.67% over the last 10 years on its MSCI index. What about China, the biggest tiger of them all? The 10-year annualized return on MSCI China is one of the lowest, at 0.24% and the five-year return is 10.95%, below Pakistan’s. MSCI Hong Kong is flat over the last 10 years and negative over five years.
Among the developed countries, the MSCI index for Canada tops the list on the last 10 years’ annual returns, with a return of 4.91%, followed by widely derided socialistic Denmark, with a return of 4.4%.
If you had put money in the MSCI World index 10 years ago, you would have lost 2.09% per annum.
The data underlines the fact that economic growth is only one of the myriad factors affecting the stock market and there’s a rather tenuous relationship between economic growth and market returns.
Graphic by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint