Decoupling generally refers to any process where one entity is separated from another but is often used in financial terms to refer to a divergence in performance or behaviour. In this way, asset managers spent some time, particularly in the aftermath of the financial crisis, arguing that emerging markets were decoupling from more mature markets and could expect buoyant returns even when developed markets were experiencing declines. The idea was that emerging markets would better reflect the attractive characteristics of their home countries with favourable demographics, little or no debt and fast economic growth. As time went on, however, it became clear that the fortunes of emerging markets were still strongly linked to the economic fortunes of developed countries.
In August 2013 an FT columnist argued the emerging market decoupling story had always been over-hyped. He wrote that since the US Fed had started talk of tapering, cutting back its asset purchase programme, that the emerging market independent growth story had become tarnished.