GRACE ALLEN ’23
Prior to January, the concept of investing in Emerging Markets wasn’t on my radar. But during the first class session, I learned that Emerging Markets are on track to overtake advanced economies' share of the world, and that there’s a case to be made for them. Taught by Bill Kennedy, Emerging Markets Investing (EMI) provided us with an understanding of the complexity of investing in EM’s, and the factors that need to be considered while operating in this risky environment. While the history of many emerging markets are rocky, there is so much opportunity - and this class opened my eyes to the space.
With a focus on case studies and in-class discussions, the class gained an understanding of Emerging Markets of the past and the present. There is a lot to be learned by looking at history in this space, and we were able to identify patterns when it came to the rise, or downfall of an EM.
Another key aspect of the class was the opportunity to hear from guest speakers. Topics ranged from the Latin American Debt Crisis, Brexit, ESG, and most importantly, the current situation in Ukraine and Russia. The speakers were able to provide even more context to situations discussed in class and offer deep insights in conversation with Bill and the rest of the class.
In March, Lord Chris Patten, the last Governor of Hong Kong gave the 2022 Barrett Family Lecture in London. Prior to his formal presentation, he gave an hour of his time to our class. He recounted lessons from his time as the Governor and the rest of his impressive career, and graciously answered our questions. It was truly an honor to hear him speak, let alone in a more informal session.
The course ended with a project that allowed us to apply everything we had learned over the semester. Groups worked together to analyze the macroeconomic status of an EM country and then individuals researched and offered a recommendation on a stock. Our country, Turkey, led to an interesting discussion. The economic and political situations are volatile - but even within that environment, there are impressive companies that merit some consideration.
Overall, the value in the class came from Bill’s experience. He shared anecdotes from when he got things right - and wrong - and instilled the value of getting your feet on the ground and building relationships throughout our careers. I, along with the rest of the class, truly valued Bill’s time and the wisdom he shared.
DEAN GANAS ’23
Emerging Markets Investing is one of the best courses Notre Dame offers. Taught by Bill Kennedy—a current portfolio manager at Fidelity—the course is centered around applied learning. Every concept we learned theoretically was paired with a case study to solidify our understanding. For example, when learning about commodities, we learned about the resource curse, the phenomenon whereby countries rich in natural resources tend to perform poorly both economically and politically compared to importing countries. Then, we read a case study on Angola, an oil exporting nation, to apply the theory in practice. This method of teaching was repeated throughout the course to cover topics such as exchange rates, monetary policy, sovereign debt, and political risk. The countries we studied included India, China, Venezuela, Turkey, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Argentina to name a few. And often, when reading about these case studies, Bill had personal investing experience and anecdotes to complement the readings. It truly was an intellectually stimulating environment.
Perhaps the best part of the course though was the frequent guest lecturers that provided an unparalleled learning experience. Mike Workman—a fixed income investor based in Moscow—joined every class via Zoom, and at the beginning of every class, he provided insight into the unfolding conflict in Ukraine with a unique, local perspective. Lord Christopher Patten also came to speak to our class, sharing his experience as the last Governor of Hong Kong and as an EU Commissioner who dealt at times with Vladimir Putin. Other guest lecturers spoke about the arguments in favor of Brexit, impact investing, ESG, Latin American debt restructuring, and currency hedging. To hear from all of these incredibly accomplished professionals is an opportunity unlike any other at Notre Dame.
The course ended with a final project that required us to apply what we learned to analyze a country and an equity within it. My team focused on China, and the stock that I researched was Pinduoduo while my teammates covered Nio, China Southern, and Tencent. We worked together to form a holistic view on China, analyzing the political risk, sovereign debt, currency, and commodity exposure of the country and then applied our insights to form a buy or sell recommendation on our equity. Each of us constructed an investment thesis on our respective equity and conducted fundamental analysis and valuation.
Overall, the course was exceptional, and anyone interested even remotely in emerging markets should apply. Emerging markets are those with the fastest growth rates, largest addressable markets, and highest demand for infrastructure and consumer goods. As such, the opportunities are immense, and in an increasingly global world, understanding emerging markets is critical to success.