NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Many investors have had their sights focused on the ongoing economic and political sagas facing developed regions like the European Union. However, in other parts of the globe, Mother Nature has been playing a major role in driving sentiment.For months, Thailand has been working diligently to defend itself from rising waters brought on by heavy monsoon rains. According to a Bloomberg report, the flooding is the worst the nation has witnessed in 70 years. At the start of this week, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attempted to ease concerns, insisting that most of Bangkok will be untouched by the flooding. Despite this reassurance, the nation's central bank has still cut Thailand's 2011 economic growth forecasts. Meanwhile, in southeastern Europe, the Turkey is taking steps to rebuild following last week's earthquake. In the days and weeks ahead, we can likely expect to learn more about the overall economic impact of this most recent phenomenon. It has been an active year for natural environmental disasters. In March, Japan suffered a devastating earthquake and tsunami. In the ensuing months, Japan's government struggled to prevent a nuclear disaster at the damaged Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The Thai floods and Turkish earthquake have been devastating to the people of the regions. However, the events have had only limited near term impact on the nations' markets. Last week, both the iShares MSCI Thailand Investable Market Index Fund ( THD) and iShares MSCI Turkey Investable Market Index Fund ( TUR) managed to power higher along with other global markets. It is still early to say that the coast is not clear for these funds, however. As October has come to a close and investors have begun to gear up for a new month, many of the same looming economic issues that have plagued the global economy in recent months have fallen back into focus. Renewed concerns about Europe combined with the impact of natural disasters will likely help to magnify the volatility that is already inherent of emerging markets. For conservative investors, the best way to monitor the ongoing events taking place in Thailand and Turkey will likely be from the sidelines.
Whereas risk adverse investors may be deterred from entered these afflicted nations, aggressive individuals may find funds like TUR and THD attractive. As we witnessed in the initial days following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, it is not uncommon to see droves of investors pile into afflicted regions in hopes of taking advantage of the eventual recovery and rebuilding efforts. Any exposure, however, must be kept small. Additionally, investors should remain flexible. In the event that headwinds crop up and sentiment turns south, individuals must be prepared to take steps needed to mitigate losses. As we have seen throughout 2011, it is difficult to anticipate where the next natural phenomena will take place. This does not mean, however, that investors can not prepare themselves. By maintaining conservative exposure to emerging markets, it is possible to lessen the negative effects of natural, political, and economic upheavals. Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.