BRICs & MORE-ter …. and The Curious Case of the Missing N-11

Justin Fox offered an interesting 12 July post on the Time blog titled “Is it really BRICs, or just ICs?” in which he suggests that the use of the term BRIC may be somewhat misleading as some may interpret it to suggest that Brazil & Russia (BR) offer equally compelling arguments for global economic impact as India & China (IC). Fox’s main point seems to orient around his views that growth in Brazil & Russia will never approach the speed or scale that India & China are experiencing, and thus the “bundling” of the four nations is not accurate.

From an academic standpoint, I tend to agree with Fox, but believe that we must recognize Goldman Sachs’ likely purpose in developing the designation and the timeframe in which it was created. Sure, per Goldman’s Economics Research Paper Issue #134 dated 1 December 2005, a critical factor in their analysis was a nation’s demographic profile, most notably its “…scale and trajectory to challenge the major economies in terms of influence on the world economy.” However, we must also remember that – although BRIC became a common part of our lexicon some years ago now – emerging economies were not as widely discussed or followed when Goldman introduced the term as they are today, especially from an investment perspective. Therefore, Goldman (I suspect) may have also been seeking to establish a solid research & investment “thesis” that could be easily communicated & grasped. A subset of 4 nations – each with terrific growth potential, representing a variety of geographical regions, offering differing levels of investment “risk”, and whose names created an abbreviation that happened to roll off the tongue easily – is one way such a “package” may been developed.

Thus, I do not think that Goldman intended – then or now – to strictly suggest that the four BRIC nations were on equal terms or offering equal potential to “challenge” the world. However, the demographics and degree of economic growth of these four countries were clearly in a different class of potential as compared to the next tier of developing nations at that time – which, by the way, Goldman called the Next-11 (N-11), comprising Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam.

But, is the issue really about the BR(IC)s or should we consider the apparent disappearance of the term N-11 these days to be an equally curious quandary? Was this longer list of second tier nations wrong, too complicated for people to track, or was the term merely not nearly as compelling? Given America’s love of lists and catchy phrases, I find it strange that one is hard pressed to hear a reference to the N-11 these days (although, admittedly, I have not kept up on all the Goldman research letters).

Is it possible that the N-11 has been downplayed because some of its components were viewed as black sheep in some parts of the world? And, if it were being kept up to date, where – for example – should Venezuela (whose only apparent shortcoming on the list of inputs utilized in the BRIC/N-11 calculation seems to be population size), Libya, or Sudan fall? What about Ethiopia?

I don’t have the answer today, dear readers, but hope this blog over time will help us better identify who really should be on the next list of emerging wildcat nations stalking more mature tiger economies – whatever such a grouping is ultimately called.

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 14th, 2007 at 8:27 pm and is filed under Uncategorized.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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Wildcats & Black Sheep is a personal interest blog dedicated to the identification and evaluation of maverick investment opportunities arising in frontier - and, what some may consider to be, “rogue” or “black sheep” - markets around the world.

Focusing primarily on The New Seven Sisters - the largely state owned petroleum companies from the emerging world that have become key players in the oil & gas industry as identified by Carola Hoyos, Chief Energy Correspondent for The Financial Times - but spanning other nascent opportunities around the globe that may hold potential in the years ahead, Wildcats & Black Sheep is a place for the adventurous to contemplate & evaluate the emerging markets of tomorrow.