Brics

If there’s one subject on which policymakers around the world seem to agree, it’s that foreign direct investment is a Good Thing.

The annual tables of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) are treated by governments of rich and poor economies alike much as football fans treat rankings in the English Premier League, crowed over by countries in the leading pack and quietly forgotten by those in the relegation zone.

There is no doubt that FDI can do a lot of good: it can add to an economy’s productive capacity and import not just capital but technology, production skills and better management. China, which not only welcomed FDI but witnessed intense competition between different provinces to attract it, stands as a shining example. Read more

By Jim O’Neill, Bruegel

Is it all over for the rise of the BRIC grouping (Brazil, Russia, India and China)?

On one level, this seems like a rather odd time to be asking such a question, especially when the political leaders of the BRICS countries (the four named above plus South Africa) have recently agreed to set up a joint development bank to be headquartered in Shanghai. So, the BRICS name is certainly here to stay, and in terms of global governance, their influence is likely to rise as a group because of the bank. Read more

By Ousmène Jacques Mandeng, Pramerica Investment Management

Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are expected to ratify an agreement this week that would establish a Brics bank at the Brics summit in Fortaleza, Brazil.

Development finance is already crowded. Apart from the multilateral and regional institutions, there are several such sub-regional institutions as the Caribbean Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and myriad national development banks like China Development Bank and Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES). BNDES is now much bigger than the World Bank in terms of gross disbursements; it even has branches in South Africa, the UK and Uruguay.

Overlap and duplication, conflicts between national, regional and multilateral interests are frequent and unavoidable – making the case for another development bank underwhelming. Read more

By Manjeet Kripalani, Indian Council on Global Relations

When Narendra Modi, prime minister, meets the leaders of the BRICS nations in Fortaleza in Brazil this week, the main topic of discussion will be the mandate of the BRICS development bank – and its location.

Shanghai, and more recently Delhi and Johannesburg have thrown their names into the ring of cities vying to host the bank’s headquarters. But China is a closed state and has ambitions to dominate BRICS. Johannesburg is too small, a fledgling in the world of finance.

The most appropriate and natural choice for locating the bank is Mumbai. There are several reasons why. Read more

If you’re an emerging market and there’s a geoeconomic grouping you’re looking for, you’ve got a few to choose from. In Asia there is Asean - ten countries in search of common ground. In Latin America there is Mercosur - five countries in search of common tariffs. And from the Atlantic west to the Black Sea there is Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation – four adjectives in search of a noun.

But none of these has the distinction of having been a marketing campaign by Goldman Sachs got out of control. The Brics nations, apparently noticing a small clearing in the densely-thicketed field of international relations, seized on the designation to set up their own diplomatic process. The sixth leaders’ summit will take place next week in Fortaleza, Brazil, with the host nation hopefully performing better than at its other major international gathering.

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As a coordinated entity, the BRICS grouping of emerging markets has produced little except inspiring the name of a widely-read blog.

Next month, the five governments – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are planning to erect an actual edifice amid the swirling mists of rhetoric with the launch of a development bank dedicated to filling some of the gigantic hole in the financing of infrastructure and growth in fast-growing emerging economies.

The BRICS are seeking to avoid some of what they say are the faults of the World Bank and regional development banks – too much rich country dominance and too many conditions attached to lending. But that leaves the exact function and operation of the BRICS bank open to a great deal of political jockeying and uncertainties over how it is run.

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By Stephany Griffith-Jones, Columbia University

Leaders of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations are committed to the creation of a new Development Bank for infrastructure and sustainable development. Details of the bank’s operations are expected at the forthcoming BRICS summit to be held in Brazil this July.

The bank is set to play an important role in helping to meet needs for an estimated US$1tn or more in annual investments in infrastructure and sustainable development. The future growth prospects of the BRICS countries will depend in large measure on these investments materialising.

What are the likely challenges this institution will face as it moves from the design to the operational stage? Read more

Indicators designed by the OECD to give a six-month lead in identifying shifts in the business cycles of key economies are showing an increasingly gloomy outlook for all four of the Bric counties – Brazil, China, Russia and India.

The most negative outlook is for India, followed by Brazil and China – while Russia’s performance may only be starting to slow, according to the Composite Leading Indicators (CLI) compiled by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development. Read more

Emerging market equities look cheap. Andrew Pease, global head of investment strategy at Russell Investments, tells John Authers why it might be unwise to buy until after the Federal Reserve has started to taper off its bond purchases.

Move over BRIC, here comes…MINT?!

Jim O’Neill, the former Goldman Sachs economist who coined and popularised the BRIC concept as an investment thesis, caused quite a stir this week when he talked up the prospects of the “MINT” economies. Read more

By Marcus Svedberg of East Capital

As financial markets started to price in tapering over the summer, it became popular to “RIP the Bric” story in what turned out to be an almost comical coincidence with the departure of the acronym’s founder.

But the financial death of Brazil, Russia, India, China and (sometimes also) South Africa was, of course, exaggerated. Read more

The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook makes pretty grim reading for emerging markets. The Fund has cut half a percentage point from its projection for overall EM growth for 2013, and 0.4 percentage points off its 2014 forecast – they are now 4.5 and 5.1 per cent, respectively.

And it’s not all China. The big downward revisions for 2013 are India (-1.8 percentage points), Mexico (-1.7), and Russia (-1.0). But the real meat of the IMF’s report is a big section entitled “What Explains the Slowdown in the BRICS?”. The answer isn’t very pretty. Read more

How gloomy should we be feeling about emerging markets? According to HSBC’s Emerging Markets Index, very. The index – a weighted composite of purchasing managers’ indices from 16 countries – has dipped into negative territory for the first time since the crisis of 2008-09.

Worse, the deterioration was increasingly broad-based across the emerging world. But there were some bright spots amid the gloom – reminding us to be careful when thinking about the emerging markets as if they were one homogeneous group. Read more

By Sammy Suzuki of AllianceBernstein

For more than a decade, Brazil, Russia, India and China have dominated conversations about emerging market investments.

But as the BRICs-driven commodities boom wanes, it may be time for investors to rethink their approach to emerging market investing. Read more