WHAT has Southeast Asia's economic crisis done for foreign investment in the relatively stable, big markets of India and the mainland? Not very much, according to the experts. India and the mainland, both comparatively unscathed by the regional crisis, have not particularly benefited either, they believe. For one, both countries have been tarred with the same brush as the Southeast Asian economies. 'Asia as a whole is being viewed by international investors as a pariah,' Callum Henderson, currency analyst at MMS International, said. Even equity market investors, who see the mainland and India as safe havens where growth is unaffected, have not actually poured money into those markets. 'If you are a US punter, and you look at all of Asia, it looks a mess and more of the funds go back home,' one investment banker said. This is hardly surprising, if results of the Morgan Stanley Asia-Pacific Index are anything to go by. Even the region's best performers - Taiwan (down 6.3 per cent on the index), Hong Kong (-23.3 per cent) - suffered negative growth and five of the nine countries in the index suffered declines of more than 60 per cent, led by Indonesia (-74.1 per cent) and then followed by Thailand (- 73.4 per cent), Malaysia (-68 per cent), South Korea (-66.7 per cent) and the Philippines (-62.6 per cent). Markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan look expensive and vulnerable, leading Morgan Stanley to consider reducing exposure to Hong Kong and the mainland and seeking to hedge their currency exposure to the Hong Kong dollar, the Taiwan dollar and the Singapore dollar. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the mainland over the first quarter of this year rose 9.7 per cent, but much of that was probably related to contracts signed last year. Still, FDI committed or contracted also rose 10 per cent year-on-year. For direct investors, such as the General Motors of the world, the time is ripe to pick through the debris for bargains. 'Assets are cheap in Korea and Thailand and they could pick up a car factory for nothing,' another banker in Singapore said. For equity investments in the mainland, the picture is equally mixed. 'If you are an investor and looking at the region, you want to minimise the risk of Southeast Asia, but look for value as well,' one Hong Kong-based investment banker at a US firm, said. 'Asset values in Thailand and Malaysia, for example, are coming down a lot, but China has stayed the same - investors are weighing risk versus value, and viewers are eyeing the pipeline for Southeast Asian companies who need equity capital and a lot of it.' Even if Beijing devalued its currency, the benefits were dubious, analysts said. 'The cost of devaluation is way higher than the cost of defending the yuan,' one source said. India may be slightly better off. With heavy exposure in Southeast Asian countries, some Japanese investors are looking towards India as a way of diversifying their risk.