The video above shows cumulative total return during Q1 2020. Total return refers to all of the gains and losses associated with investing in a particular country’s stock market (using MSCI’s country level indices), including increases/decreases in stock prices, dividends and gains/losses from fluctuations in currency values. The cumulative aspect means that the return takes into account all the gains and losses from the beginning of the year to the date shown in the upper left-hand corner of the video.
Green means the total return was positive. Yellow means zero (or near zero). Orange and red both mean negative returns.
When you click play, you’ll see that as the year was beginning, global markets were doing well – January was generally an up month. But things began to turn in February with stocks alternating between ups and downs. March was generally a bad month for world markets. It was so bad that it erased the gains from earlier in the year for every country pictured here.
Interestingly, although the crisis appears to have originated in China, China was one of the world’s best performers by the end of the quarter. Asia in general saw smaller losses than the rest of the world. Countries which are well-known for low rates of business diversification and for relatively high dependence on commodity production such as Russia, Brazil, and Mexico tended to be harder hit.
The video below is quite similar, but instead of showing cumulative return, it shows one week’s (meaning five business days’) total return. This makes it easier to see the turning points, which one can start to see in early March. Both China and Russia’s worst one-week return was March 18th. From there, China bounced back more strongly.