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Don't Panic: The BRIC Economies and 'Fragile Five' Are Staying Alive

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Good luck is sometimes defined as the point when opportunity meets preparation. Bad luck may also be looked at in a similar fashion. Preparing for an opportunity that doesn't unfold or speeding down a road that goes the wrong way ... well ... you get the picture.

The so-called BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China (and sometimes including South Africa, the newest addition to the group) -- haven't looked very attractive to investors in recent weeks. But according to the Feb. 1 edition of The Economist, there's a new emerging market quintet that also looks overtaken with economic angst.

This time the focus is currency-related.

"The Fragile Five" is a new group that includes BRIC components Brazil and India, but adds Turkey, South Africa and Indonesia.

All five countries saw their currencies plummet. The culprit? Supposedly it was the former head of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke and his surprise statement that the Fed wouldn't keep spending $85 billion per month to buy U.S. Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities.

Then on Jan. 23, the other shoe dropped when China's manufacturing index fell more than expected. Seemingly overnight, rumors were flying that the second largest economy in the world was experiencing an economic slowdown while attempting to tighten bank lending practices. Markets around the world were quickly spooked.

Yes there's soaring inflation in Argentina and Venezuela, corruption scandals in places like Turkey, and accusations from Brazil that the richest nations are waging some kind of a currency war. So what else is new?

It wasn't long ago we were worried about the PIIGS. Remember them? Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain. The headlines were filled with ominous words like "Euro Zone in Financial Crisis" and predictions that the European Union would soon collapse.

Fast forward to Tuesday, Feb. 4, and the Wall Street Journal had a special report in its exchange-traded funds section titled "How Investors Can Play Europe in 2014." The article begins with three words: "Europe is back." It goes on to suggest that European-focused ETFs might offer more reward than U.S. stocks. My, oh my, how things can change! The crisis of the day may become tomorrow's undervalued opportunity.

The old saw claims that the Chinese symbol for the word "crisis" can also be used for the word "opportunity." Perhaps that's because one leads to another.

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