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Opinion
Shuli Ren

A Surprise Winner as Emerging Markets Crumble

President Joko Widodo wants Indonesia to be more than a source of commodities, and investors are buying it.

Nickel smelting in Indonesia.

Nickel smelting in Indonesia.

Photographer: BANNU MAZANDRA/AFP

Call it a taper tantrum, times 10. Developing nations are reeling from the double whammy of Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes and China’s economic slowdown. They are burning through foreign reserves at the fastest pace since the 2008, to defend their currencies and cover higher import bills for food and fuel. Foreign investors are heading for the exits, while frontier economies such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have sought bailouts from the International Monetary Fund. The picture is not pretty. 

Amid the chaos is a surprise winner. Indonesia, which was singled out as a Fragile Five less than a decade ago for its vulnerable currency and reliance on hot foreign money, has been a haven of relative calm.