One of the worst possible investment choices in 2015 was to buy Brazilian stocks. In fact, among exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with more than $1 billion in market value, the iShares Brazil ETF (EWZ) was the year’s single worst performer, falling 41 percent.
But all of that is set to turn around in 2016, if Societe General head of US strategy Larry McDonald is correct.
“In the first quarter, you’re going to have a real wash-out in Brazil, and then Brazil will be the place to be in terms of 2016, because the political landscape is changing dramatically in Brazil’s favor,” McDonald said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.”
A great deal has gone wrong for Brazil recently. As a commodity-reliant economy that is a major exporter to China, a massive China-related commodity rout crushed the Brazilian economy. In addition, Brazil has an unpopular president in the form of socialist Dilma Rousseff, whose approval ratings are mired in the single digits.
But now, an impeachment movement against Rousseff is gaining ground. This could lead to the election of a president seen as more pro-business.
Additionally, there is an argument that it can only get so much worse for the Brazilian economy.
On the other hand, Max Wolff of Manhattan Venture Partners warns that it will be a “longer, slower rebuild” for emerging markets than many expect.
Even worse, Wolff predicts that “2016 is the year when the international contagion stops being constructive — i.e., pushing money into the U.S. — and starts being a problem for U.S. exporters and the 45 percent of S&P earnings will be offshore,” he said.
Whether Wolff or McDonald’s prediction proves to be more prescient, both would likely agree on one thing: The next economic move for commodity-centric countries will be a key story of the new year.