Goodbye Mr. BRICs

Goldman analyst who coined the term BRICs to retire

February 5, 2013
February 5, 2013

Jim O’Neill, the chairman of Goldman Sachs’ asset management arm who is perhaps best known for coining the now-ubiquitous term BRICs—Brazil, Russia, India and China—to describe a new class of emerging market nations redefining the global economy, is retiring from the firm.

As an analytic framework, the BRICs were always questionable. And the economic performance of the nations in that basket has been all over the map, ranging from surging growth in China, to hamstrung opportunities in India and moments of underperformance for Russia.

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But as a Wall Street marketing pitch, O’Neill’s BRICs gambit has to be one of the most influential in years, providing an easy, effective way to refer to the regions that were long considered out of bounds for global investors, and subsequently attracted massive amounts of investor cash. Over at the FT’s Beyond Brics blog, they spotlight the outperformance of emerging market stock markets since O’Neill made his original BRICs call in 2001.

Of course, offering an easy, fast framework for investment decisions may be considered a somewhat dangerous thing to do. And record inflows into emerging market corporate bonds last year have gotten the attention of some who see reason to worry that a bubble in emerging market debt—specifically corporate debt—could be about ready to burst.

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