Because it is fitting that World Cup powers in South America and Western Europe would face off in Round Two, so is it fitting that our next matchup should pit developed Asia against emerging Asia.

The similarities and connections here run deep. Developed Asia is a major investor (and some would say exploiter) in emerging Asia, and emerging Asia supplies a lot of the labor and material resources that the more developed countries need to grow their economies. What's more, a lot of investors look at the long-term money that has been made from markets like Japan, Australia, and Singapore and see that same sort of potential in the economies of countries like India, Thailand, and Indonesia.

That said, there are important differences to keep in mind.

It is relatively easy for an American to invest in Japanese stocks, because companies like Honda (NYSE:HMC), Sony (NYSE:SNE), and NTTDoCoMo (NYSE:DCM) are all liquid American Depositary Receipts. And while the options aren't quite so numerous for companies in Korea, Australia, and Singapore, there are both listed ADRs and Pink Sheet stocks available for purchase. When you turn to countries like Indonesia, India, and Thailand, though, the pickings get slimmer.

It's also important to remember that government stability and economic policy has a lot to do with your long-term investment prospects. Japan, Australia, Korea, and Singapore all have their "quirks," but countries like India and Indonesia are another bowl of rice completely.

Still, companies like Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM) and HDFC Bank (NYSE:HDB) shouldn't be dismissed out of hand -- they just may turn out to be the Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) of tomorrow.

Primary stock indexes:

Developed Asia:

  • Nikkei 225 (Japan)
  • All Ordinaries (Australia)
  • Straits Times (Singapore)

India /Southeast Asia:

  • BSE Index (India)
  • Jakarta Composite (Indonesia)
  • KLSE Composite (Malaysia)

In this match, Nathan Parmelee will look at developed Asia, and Tim Beyers will examine India and Southeast Asia.

For more international stock ideas, check out The Motley Fool International Report: Around the World in 80 Minutes .

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares). Bank of America is an Income Investor recommendation. The Motley Fool is investorswriting for investors.