Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Another BRIC in the wall?

File:Ponte Octávio Frias no Brooklin, São Paulo (SP).jpg  File:Kutuzov Avenue.jpg
Sao Paulo, Brazil                            Moscow, Russia
File:Mumbai Skyline at Night.jpg  File:Shanghaiviewpic1.jpg
Mumbai, India                                 Shanghai, China 
Source : wikipedia
The term “BRIC economies” was coined by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill back in 2001 to refer to Brazil, Russia, India and China.  They were all deemed to be at a similar stage of their economic development and were forecast to be the engines of growth for the global economy for many years to come.  These four countries combined account for more than a quarter of the world’s land area and more than 40% of the world’s population.  According to a report in Forbes in March 2011, the BRIC countries number 301 billionaires among their combined populations, exceeding the number in Europe (300, at the time).  Along with other emerging economies such as Turkey, a burgeoning middle class would see their economies revolutionised and their inexorable march towards global economic domination unstoppable.
Except it hasn’t really quite worked out that way, at least over the last year or so.  Turkey, despite phenomenal economic growth, has seen a traditionalist government clash with a secular urban population that rejects some of the more conservative policies put in place by the Erdogan government.  The Chinese economy is showing signs that a combination of high inflation and slowing growth are putting extreme strains on their financial system.  The Indian rupee has hit an all time low as the Singh administration has wrestled with the problems caused by large budget and current account deficits.  The government of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil has failed to capitalise on the changes of her predecessor and here, too, citizens are on the streets protesting about corruption, the slow pace of reform and social inequalities.  In Russia, citizens are, probably wisely, a little more reticent to take to the streets. However, following a series of issues surrounding protection of property rights and rule of law, the country has recently been voted the 120th best country in the world to do business.  This has acted as quite a break on Russia’s ability to capitalise on its opportunities.
So is it adeus to Rio?  Dasvidanya to Moscow?  Zaijian to Beijing? Namaste to Delhi? Certainly, the outlook for emerging markets is not as clear as it was.  Last month's gyrations in global markets have hit the BRIC markets particularly hard, as concerns have arisen over capital flows and the shorter term outlook for global growth outside the United States.  These are, of course all valid concerns.   In 2010, the GDP for the BRIC Countries was US$8,640 compared with US$30,437 for the G7 Countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US).  Long term forecasting is a notoriously dark art, and, according to a report in the Foreign Policy Journal last year, it is not until 2035 that the BRIC economies will, potentially, be larger.  That is a long way off and there will, undoubtedly, be many adventures along the way.  So, without confusing you too much linguistically any further, perhaps it is more a case of au revoir rather than adieu!

Rob Burgeman
Regional Director - London

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