The Fastest Rising Asset Classes in 2023
Many corners of the market have shown resilience despite persistent inflation and slowing economic growth in 2023. U.S. equities, international equities, and a variety of bonds have seen positive returns so far this year.
In the above graphic, we rank the top-performing asset classes to date with data from BlackRock.
Asset Class Performance, Ranked
Here’s how select asset classes have performed in 2023 as of May 31:
|Asset Type||2023 Return (as of May 31)||10-Year Annualized Return|
|Investment Grade Credit||2.8%||1.6%|
|High Yield Bonds||2.6%||3.0%|
|Emerging Market Debt||1.8%||1.9%|
|Emerging Market Equities||1.2%||2.3%|
|Developing Market Gov. Debt||0.9%||-0.5%|
After a troublesome 2022 for markets, you can see above that U.S. equities have rebounded the fastest in 2023. They are sitting at 9.8% returns year-to-date.
However, this has largely been a story of a few outperformers buoying the overall market. Nvidia with 159% returns, along with Meta (120%), Apple (36%), and Microsoft (37%) are among the companies with strong growth. Many of these companies are investing billions in artificial intelligence.
European equities, at 9% returns, have also seen steady performance. Investors have flocked to the market, given the tilt to value stocks during rising rates.
Globally, bonds fall roughly in the middle of the pack, while commodities have fallen 6.7% on the year so far. China’s equity market has faced headwinds amid strained economic ties with the U.S. and economic data falling under expectations.
Bull Market On the Horizon?
Tech funds saw a record $8.5 billion in weekly inflows as of May 31, 2023 driven by AI enthusiasm.
As investors pour into these megacap stocks, S&P 500 returns have rebounded almost 20% from their October lows, moving closer into bull market territory.
As it stands, investor optimism has increased across the broader market. The investor fear gauge hovered near its lowest point since February 2020. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) sank to 15, a significant drop from its average reading of 23 over the past year.
Ranked: The World’s Top Diamond Mining Countries, by Carats and Value
Who are the leaders in rough diamond production and how much is their diamond output worth?
Ranked: World Diamond Mining By Country, Carat, and Value
Only 22 countries in the world engage in rough diamond production—also known as uncut, raw or natural diamonds—mining for them from deposits within their territories.
This chart, by Sam Parker illustrates the leaders in rough diamond production by weight and value. It uses data from Kimberly Process (an international certification organization) along with estimates by Dr. Ashok Damarupurshad, a precious metals and diamond specialist in South Africa.
Rough Diamond Production, By Weight
Russia takes the top spot as the world’s largest rough diamond producer, mining close to 42 million carats in 2022, well ahead of its peers.
Russia’s large lead over second-place Botswana (24.8 million carats) and third-ranked Canada (16.2 million carats) indicates that the country’s diamond production is circumventing sanctions due to the difficulties in tracing a diamond’s origin.
Here’s a quick breakdown of rough diamond production in the world.
|5||🇿🇦 South Africa||9,660,233|
|10||🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||688,970|
|18||🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire||3,904|
|19||🇨🇬 Republic of Congo||3,534|
Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated.
As with most other resources, (oil, gold, uranium), rough diamond production is distributed unequally. The top 10 rough diamond producing countries by weight account for 99.2% of all rough diamonds mined in 2022.
Diamond Mining, by Country
However, higher carat mined doesn’t necessarily mean better value for the diamond. Other factors like the cut, color, and clarity also influence a diamond’s value.
Here’s a quick breakdown of diamond production by value (USD) in 2022.
|5||🇿🇦 South Africa||$1,538M|
|9||🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||$143M|
|19||🇨🇬 Republic of Congo||$0.20M|
|20||🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire||$0.16M|
Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated. Furthermore, numbers have been rounded and may not sum to the total.
Thus, even though Botswana only produced 59% of Russia’s diamond weight in 2022, it had a trade value of nearly $5 billion, approximately 1.5 times higher than Russia’s for the same year.
Another example is Angola, which is ranked 6th in diamond production, but 3rd in diamond value.
Both countries (as well as South Africa, Canada, and Namibia) produce gem-quality rough diamonds versus countries like Russia and the DRC whose diamonds are produced mainly for industrial use.
Which Regions Produce the Most Diamonds in 2022?
Unsurprisingly, Africa is the largest rough diamond producing region, accounting for 51% of output by weight, and 66% by value.
|Rank||Region||Share of Rough|
Diamond Production (%)
|Share of Rough
Diamond Value (%)
However diamond mining in Africa is a relatively recent phenomenon, fewer than 200 years old. Diamonds had been discovered—and prized—as far back as 2,000 years ago in India, later on spreading west to Egyptian pharaohs and the Roman Empire.
By the start of the 20th century, diamond production on a large scale took off: first in South Africa, and decades later in other African countries. In fact between 1889–1959, Africa produced 98% of the world’s diamonds.
And in the latter half of the 20th century, the term blood diamond evolved from diamonds mined in African conflict zones used to finance insurgency or crime.
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