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Emerging Market Rally Still Alive

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

By Ivan Martchev of InvestorPlace.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I'm guessing you've heard some of the same comments I've been hearing recently regarding the weak start that many emerging markets have made this year: "It's time to buy developed markets again," "Emerging markets are done," "The emerging market rally is over," etc.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The secular bull market in BRIC markets and other smaller, organically growing emerging markets is far from over.

Markets that are developing their domestic economies based on sustainable "savings-and-investment" economic growth cycles, rather than on unsustainable, ever-rising levels of borrowing such as we've seen in many developed markets (Germany being a notable exception), have plenty of upside ahead.

In the United States, we saw corporate profits hit an all-time high at the end of 2010, with financial firms showing some of the biggest gains. However, this is hardly surprising when you borrow at zero percent and lend at a positive rate.

Corporations reported an annualized $1.68 trillion in profits in the fourth quarter. This is almost exactly the size of the projected deficit for fiscal year 2011 of $1.65 trillion. So, in effect, the federal government has borrowed the total profits of the U.S. economy!

Before the financial crisis, we had a smaller federal deficit, but then it was consumers and corporations that were doing the borrowing. In short, if the government borrowing goes away, so does the recovery.

It is very difficult to advocate holding an S&P 500 index fund in the next 10 years, as the last 10 years has produced an annual return of just 3.2%. As you can see in the chart below, there is only one market in the MSCI Emerging Market Index with a lower return in that time frame (Taiwan), while the rest have been spectacular performers without running huge and unsustainable fiscal deficits.

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