By Carl Delfeld
NEW YORK (
) -- When it comes to emerging market investing, BRIC nations -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- dominate the headlines.
They're big, important countries. And together, they make up about half of the
iShares MSCI Emerging Market Index
, one of the most popular exchange traded funds.
But what about the 17 other countries in the fund?
For some time now, I've been monitoring a country that's off the radar screens of even the most sophisticated investors, one that represents a bigger prize than the BRIC nations.
Emerging Market Investing -- Consider These Statistics:
See if you can guess which
emerging market investment
I'm talking about. Take a look at these statistics.
1. It's a member of the global economic leaders club -- better known as the G-20.
2. With 240 million people, it boasts the world's fourth-largest population.
3. Its land mass is three times the size of Texas.
4. Its 10-year government bond interest rate is less than Spain's.
5. And, most importantly, it was the best-performing stock market in 2009 and continues to chug forward in 2010.
The answer is: Indonesia.
The Driving Force Behind Indonesia's Downturn-Defying Performance:
Since the global economic crisis crushed the capital markets in early 2009, Indonesia has shrugged off the adversity and been a stellar performer.
And while many investors continue to laud the BRIC nations, Indonesia's economy quietly notched up 4% gross domestic product growth in 2009 and is projected to top 6% this year. That puts the country in the same league as Brazil, India and China as one of the world's
top emerging markets
The driving force behind Indonesia's success? Private consumption, which accounts for about two-thirds of the economy and has carried it through the recent financial turbulence. Consumption kicked 5% higher during the second quarter, while investments jumped by 8%. The country has attracted billions of dollars in foreign capital into stocks and bonds.
A Triple-Digit Sprint for Indonesian Stocks:
The Jakarta Stock Exchange has fed off the positive flow of economic news. Over the past year, it's more than doubled.
And its emerging market country ETFs have tagged along for the ride. From its low in November 2008, the
Aberdeen Indonesia Fund
is up 372%. And having hit bottom in March 2009, the
Market Vectors Indonesia Index ETF
has catapulted 313% higher.
The Indonesian rupiah has also strengthened by 24% against the U.S. dollar.
Asia's Big Boys Have Indonesia in the Crosshairs:
There's no doubt that Indonesia is growing rapidly. But to maintain growth, the country needs to attract more than $200 billion in new infrastructure investment, so it can develop manufacturing industries and create jobs for tens of millions of unemployed people.