This blog is fast approaching its first birthday, and one of my first posts was an examination of what was making the headlines in relation to emerging markets at the time. Growth, inflation and investment were the key terms that emerged from the exercise.
Given all that’s happened in the year since, I thought it might appropriate to have a look at how the headlines in relation to emerging markets have changed over the last three years. Naturally, this is a crude enough exercise – there’s no telling how many mentions of Russia were positive or negative for example – but I think it’s an interesting and ultimately informative one all the same.
What I’ve done is take headlines from the Google News archive that contain the phrase “emerging markets” and dump these – minus the term emerging markets (plus one or two other phrases that are more to do with the publisher). I’ve taken the top 100 stories for each month from January 2006 on and grouped them into quarters. (I didn’t want to have you sitting here all day looking at a few dozen word clouds!) These quarterly clouds are presented below by year (Q1, Q2, then Q3 and Q4 on the next line). The originals are up on my wordle.net profile page, where you can see much more detail. I’ll present them as a sort of economic Rorschach test, before giving any of my own observations or interpretations (colour and location don’t matter in wordle, just size)…
First up is 2006:
The way Google News archive works, it’s hard to get comparable headlines for Q2 just yet, but here’s Q1:
Interesting? Here are some of my thoughts:
- Growth is a hot topic in emerging markets – the only time it doesn’t feature prominently is in 2008 Q4, those hectic final months of 2008. Somewhat reassuringly, growth reappears as a topic for discussion in 2009
- The word global only features in the top 3 phrases once in the five quarters up to 2007 Q1, but is the most commonly used word – or close thereto – every quarter after that. Does that signify a changing attitude toward their importance to the global economy?
- Phrases such as funds, stocks and investment were more prominent before 2008. Did the online world see emerging markets as a one-way bet? (Or perhaps it just reflects the greater number of online channels for investors earlier on?)
- Risk is a phrase that crops up in late 2007 but not really much elsewhere – I wonder why.
- 2008 really shows the value of these word clouds. Top left you can see the first three months of the year, and talk of ‘decoupling’ leads people to see emerging markets as the centre of global growth. Move right and as we head into summer 2008, inflation and oil are emerging as concerns in relation to emerging markets. Heading into the autumn, you can see a greater preoccupation with stocks and funds, while words like bailout, hit and falls start to creep in. By the final three months, growth is almost entirely gone, replaced instead with crisis, and other revealing words of sentiment can bee seen – such as weak, turmoil, fears and even firing.
- The first three months of 2009 were surprisingly optimistic – surprisingly similar to the first half of 2006, it must be said.
What other insights do people see from the wisdom of the (online journo) masses?