In wake of UN report on emerging economy growth, Mazurier raises necessary questions

Article published on April 15, 2015
Article published on April 15, 2015

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Following the release by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development of its 2014 report, renowned European financier Christophe Mazurier provided a deep analysis to the French newspaper Les Echos.

Mazurier focused on the parts of the report dedicated to emerging economies, and in particular the amount and scope of direct foreign investment being injected into them. He noted that the continued growth in emerging economies was impressive, especially in the face of a general morass in the global economy as a whole. He also highlighted the fact that half of foreign direct investment is still moving to developing regions, which he considers a net positive despite the fact that the Financial Times reported in April that emerging nations’ growth has slowed to a snail’s pace not seen since the global recession.

While the stalled growth is certainly a concern, especially in the larger nations like Brazil and China, Mazurier chose to focus his editorial on what he called “economic disparities” between both regions, like Asia and the Middle East, and sub-regions, typically nations, within those larger regions.

In clear language, Mazurier laid out his argument that the growth gaps in a place like Africa, where some countries find themselves in better economic positions thanks to more foreign direct investment while others, for a myriad of reasons, have seen their outside cash injections dry up, can cause entire regions to become unstable. What starts as an isolated economic and social problem, argued Mazurier, can quickly spiral out of control and threaten the well-being of entire continents.

For example, take Boko Haram. Firstly, the conflict has clear religious overtones, but the radicalism can be linked, at least in part, to the poor economic situation that has long gripped northeastern Nigeria. The conflict itself has now spiraled out of control, moving into neighboring countries like Cameroon and Chad. Nigeria has postponed its elections in order to fight the insurgency. Through all of this, the already paltry direct investment into this region has slowed to a drip. With less investment comes less chance for economic recovery, which means the discontent will continue to breed this kind of radicalism.

This is the “vicious circle” Mazurier refers to in his editorial, and it is easy to see how what begins as a localized problem can soon pitch the entire region into disarray. Since the rest of Africa -- like much of the emerging economies in Asia, the Middle East and South America -- is already on unstable economic footing, it won’t take something catastrophic to derail the progress.

Despite the gaps in investment in the developing world, the situation is more promising than ever. Mazurier argues that by shoring up regional and sub-regional foreign investment -- in short, spreading the wealth more evenly -- the long-term safety of each region can be better preserved.