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Stock Market Jamaican Stocks Investment Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek
Stock Market Jamaican Stocks Investment Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

World's Hottest Stock Market

The Jamaican stock market is so obscure, even emerging markets funds don’t invest there. And it’s booming

Michael P. Regan

At the world’s best- performing stock market, things operate a bit differently than they do on Wall Street. No one complains about short sellers swooping in to drive down share prices or high-frequency traders eking out an unfair edge, because neither exist here. And forget about premarket or after-hours sessions that stretch the trading day around the clock. At the Jamaica Stock Exchange on the waterfront of Kingston Harbour, investors have just three and a half hours a day to buy and sell.

So this market isn’t ready to plug into the hyperactive trading desks of New York and London. Not yet. There are zero Jamaican stocks in U.S. exchange traded funds, even those tracking “frontier” countries such as Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, the most emerging of the emerging markets.

Still, Jamaica’s stock returns are the sort that tend to be a beacon for adventurous global investors—a flash of bright green digits on computer screens that have lately been lit up in red. In 2018 the nation’s main index rose 29 percent in U.S. dollar terms, the most among 94 national benchmarks tracked by Bloomberg. Its out performance over the past five years is even more striking. Jamaican stocks have surged almost 300 percent, more than quadrupling the next-best- performing national benchmark and septupling the S&P 500’s advance.

What explains these gains? A Caribbean economic miracle the world has overlooked? Not exactly: R

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