In economics, BRIC (typically rendered as "the BRICs" or "the BRIC countries") is a grouping acronym that refers to the related countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
The acronym was coined and prominently used by Jim O'Neill, head of global economic research at Goldman Sachs in 2001. According to a paper published in 2005, Mexico and South Korea are the only other countries comparable to the BRICs, but their economies were excluded initially because they were considered already more developed. Goldman Sachs argued that, since they are developing rapidly, by 2050 the combined economies of the BRICs could eclipse the combined economies of the current richest countries of the world. The four countries, combined, currently account for more than a quarter of the world's land area and more than 40% of the world's population. Goldman Sachs did not argue that the BRICs would organize themselves into an economic bloc, or a formal trading association, as the European Union has done. However, there are some indications that the "four BRIC countries have been seeking to form a 'political club' or 'alliance'", and thereby converting "their growing economic power into greater geopolitical clout". On June 16, 2009, the leaders of the BRIC countries held their first summit in Yekaterinburg, and issued a declaration calling for the establishment of a multipolar world order.
Goldman Sachs argues that the economic potential of Brazil, Russia, India, and China is such that they could become among the four most dominant economies by the year 2050. The thesis was proposed by Jim O'Neill, global economist at Goldman Sachs. These countries encompass over 25% of the world's land coverage and 40% of the world's population and hold a combined GDP (PPP) of 15.435 trillion dollars. On almost every scale, they would be the largest entity on the global stage. These four countries are among the biggest and fastest growing emerging markets.
However, it is not the intent of Goldman Sachs to argue that these four countries are a political alliance (such as the European Union) or any formal trading association, like ASEAN. Nevertheless, they have taken steps to increase their political cooperation, mainly as a way of influencing the United States position on major trade accords, or, through the implicit threat of political cooperation, as a way of extracting political concessions from the United States, such as the proposed nuclear cooperation with India.
(2003) Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050
The BRIC thesis (defended in the paper Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050) recognizes that Brazil, Russia, India and China have changed their political systems to embrace global capitalism. Goldman Sachs predicts China and India, respectively, to be the dominant global suppliers of manufactured goods and services while Brazil and Russia would become similarly dominant as suppliers of raw materials. Cooperation is thus hypothesized to be a logical next step among the BRICs because Brazil and Russia together form the logical commodity suppliers to India and China. Thus, the BRICs have the potential to form a powerful economic bloc to the exclusion of the modern-day states currently of "Group of Eight" status. Brazil is dominant in soy and iron ore while Russia has enormous supplies of oil and natural gas. Goldman Sachs' thesis thus documents how commodities, work, technology, and companies have diffused outward from the United States across the world.
Following the end of the Cold War or even before, the governments comprising BRIC all initiated economic or political reforms to allow their countries to enter the world economy. In order to compete, these countries have simultaneously stressed education, foreign investment, domestic consumption, and domestic entrepreneurship.
(2004) Follow-up report
The Goldman Sachs global economics team released a follow-up report to its initial BRIC study in 2004. The report states that in BRIC nations, the number of people with an annual income over a threshold of $3,000, will double in number within three years and reach 800 million people within a decade. This predicts a massive rise in the size of the middle class in these nations. In 2025, it is calculated that the number of people in BRIC nations earning over $15,000 may reach over 200 million. This indicates that a huge pickup in demand will not be restricted to basic goods but impact higher-priced goods as well. According to the report, first China and then a decade later India will begin to dominate the world economy.
Yet despite the balance of growth, swinging so decisively towards the BRIC economies, the average wealth level of individuals in the more advanced economies will continue to far outstrip the BRIC economic average. Goldman Sachs estimates that by 2025 the income per capita in the six most populous EU countries will exceed $35,000, whereas only about 500 million people in the BRIC economies will have similar income levels.
The report also highlights India's great inefficiency in energy use and mentions the dramatic under-representation of these economies in the global capital markets. The report also emphasizes the enormous populations that exist within the BRIC nations, which makes it relatively easy for their aggregate wealth to eclipse the G6, while per-capita income levels remain far below the norm of today's industrialized countries. This phenomenon, too, will affect world markets as multinational corporations will attempt to take advantage of the enormous potential markets in the BRICs by producing, for example, far cheaper automobiles and other manufactured goods affordable to the consumers within the BRICs in lieu of the luxury models that currently bring the most income to automobile manufacturers. India and China have already started making their presence felt in the service and manufacturing sector respectively in the global arena. Developed economies of the world have already taken serious note of this fact.
(2007) Second Follow-up report
This report compiled by lead authors Tushar Poddar and Eva Yi gives insight into "India's Rising Growth Potential". It reveals updated projection figures attributed to the rising growth trends in India over the last four years. Goldman Sachs assert that "India's influence on the world economy will be bigger and quicker than implied in our previously published BRICs research". They noted significant areas of research and development, and expansion that is happening in the country, which will lead to the prosperity of the growing middle-class.
"India has 10 of the 30 fastest-growing urban areas in the world and, based on current trends, we estimate a massive 700 million people will move to cities by 2050. This will have significant implications for demand for urban infrastructure, real estate, and services."
In the revised 2007 figures, based on increased and sustaining growth, more inflows into foreign direct investment, Goldman Sachs predicts that "from 2007 to 2020, India's GDP per capita in US$ terms will quadruple", and that the Indian economy will surpass the United States (in US$) by 2050. It states that the four nations as a group will overtake the G7 in 2032.
The BRIC numbers
The Economist publishes an annual table of social and economic national statistics in its Pocket World in Figures. Extrapolating the global rankings from their 2008 Edition for the BRIC countries and economies in relation to various categories provides an interesting touchstone in relation to the economic underpinnings of the BRIC thesis. It also illustrates how, despite their divergent economic bases, the economic indicators are remarkably similar in global rankings between the different economies. It also suggests that, while economic arguments can be made for linking Mexico into the BRIC thesis, the case for including South Korea looks considerably weaker. A Goldman Sachs paper published later in December 2005 explained why Mexico wasn't included in the original BRICs.
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