What next for the Brics?
The Brics started life as a marketing gimmick dreamt up by Goldman Sachs to promote emerging markets, but the notion has taken on a life of its own and this group of nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are now a formal organisation who have just met for their fifth summit. In this week’s podcast, Gideon Rachman is joined by Stefan Wagstyl, editor of beyondbrics, and Andrew England, South Africa correspondent, reporting from Durban, where the group has agreed to set up a Brics-led development bank. But do the Brics matter, what unites and divides these nations, and are we likely to still be discussing this group in ten years’ time?
As the BRICs assemble for their summit in South Africa, what better way to celebrate the occasion than to buy the splendid “Lunch with the FT, 52 Classic Interviews” book. The connection may not seem immediately obvious. But think about it. The BRICS have flourished through a relentless focus on commerce, and this is what the FT is trying to do, through repackaging some of our best interviews and selling them in a beautiful commemorative edition, that will take pride of place in your lovely home. When your friends see this stunning volume, with its glorious full-page colour cartoons, they will admire you for your good taste! You might even enjoy reading some of the interviews.
“It’s time to bid farewell to the Brics,” wrote my FT colleague Philip Stephens this week. Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who first coined the acronym which groups Brazil, Russia, India and China, seems to feel the same. His new book, also reviewed this week by Stefan Wagstyl, the FT’s emerging editor, is called ‘The Growth Map: Economic Opportunity in the BRICs and beyond‘.
The italicisation of “beyond” is my own. Nevertheless, as an intellectual grouping, the Bric term never sat that comfortably with anyone – except, perhaps, as an investment idea. The differences separating its four members are as many and as deep as their similarities. In fact, the only feature these countries really share is immense size. This was lucidly captured several years before Mr O’Neill by none other than George Kennan.