The international spotlight has been occupied in the recent past by the usual suspects: China and the rest of the BRIC countries, the Euro zone countries, and lately Egypt. And overshadowed by most of the emerging world, a country that deserved to be noticed: Poland.
There are big things going on in Poland. In July, the nation will take over the Presidency of the European Union for the first time (currently a position held by Hungary). Poland is now the seventh largest economy in the European Union… and it was the only country in Europe with positive GDP in 2009 (on an annual basis).
And according to the World Economic Forum, Poland is making strides. While the U.S. has spent the past two years losing rank in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, Poland’s ranking rose to 39th (out of 139). The country has a competitive advantage in investor protection, regulation of securities exchanges, legal rights and education enrollment rates. And it ranks 4th on trade tariffs.
But what’s really impressive about Poland is that the nation survived the tragic loss of a president, and proceeded to a peaceful and orderly election of a new leader. And throughout the process, from an economic perspective, they didn’t miss a step.
The bottom line: emerging markets on the whole have been struggling lately, but long-term there are still solid growth opportunities. So keep an eye on Poland. And keep an eye on iShares MSCI Poland Investable Market Index Fund (EPOL). Since its inception last May, the fund is up 38%. Another fund with exposure to Poland is SPDR S&P Emerging Europe (GUR); this fund also has holdings in Turkey and Russia, and it’s up 26% over the past year. Keep in mind: both of these funds are thinly traded at this point, but are worth watching.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.