If you’re looking for an antidote to the West’s hand-wringing over its predicted declining influence over 21st century geopolitics, have a gander at sovereign wealth fund investments. In 2007, former US Treasury secretary Larry Summers wrote, “for some time now, the large flow of capital from the developing to the industrialized world has been the principal irony of the international financial system.” Remarkably, the majority of SWF cash continues to flow in that direction 12 years on.
That’s despite emerging markets’ many obvious attractions to SWFs: They have provided the 21st century’s most explosive growth, and their urbanization rates and young populations promise only more expansion. SWFs also have a built-in advantage in these markets, as many are in their backyards.
However, they still make up a comparatively small portion of SWFs’ portfolios. Sure, everyone has a decent chunk of Asian assets and maybe a handful in Africa and Latin America, but SWFs’ holdings don’t exactly paint a bullish picture of the Global South. Slyngstad of Norway himself sounded surprised about the matter in a recent Bloomberg interview, pointing out that less than 3% of their portfolio is in China: