Then there is the national government to contend with. Voicing an opinion that conflicts with President Vladimir Putin's wishes could lead to your business or investments being seized as well as a potential prison sentence. Just ask Mikhail Khodorovsky, former Chairman and CEO of Russian oil giant Yukos, who was convicted of fraud in 2005 for reasons that are believed to be politically motivated.
LATAM's Commodity King
While outright corruption isn't as big of a problem for Brazil as it is for Russia, the government does have a hand in creating risks for investors that stem from its "protectionist" attitude. The country now has the second-highest number of protectionist measures in Latin America, after Argentina. This includes rules to favor local products, high tariffs on imported goods, tax breaks to encourage domestic production and limiting the access of foreign investors to strategic natural resource assets. For example, investors wanting to tap the nation's vast oil wealth must partner with state-owned energy giant Petrobras. Overall, these policies could derail some investment returns if Brazil decides to go one step further and nationalize various assets.
Asia's Bureaucratic Nightmare
With a democracy as large as India's, you would expect there to be some red tape when it comes to successful investment. However, the nation's bureaucracy has been called the "most stifling in the world." Starting a business in India is incredibly hard, as the local and national governments generally have a hand in the commercial markets. Likewise, enforcing contracts can be impossible, especially when there is a propensity for business partners to enter into undeclared third-party transactions. The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, a Hong Kong-based think tank, estimates that India's bureaucratic system will prevent it from matching the growth rates of other rival nations.
The Bottom Line
The BRICs offer much in the way of portfolio and economic growth, however, there are some pretty big risks for individual investors as well. Understanding these risks is key to navigating these emerging giants successfully.