By Robert J. Samuelson, Sunday, October 14 –
Just in case you didn’t hear it, that was the sound of the BRIC bubble popping.
The acronym stands for Brazil-Russia-India-China. Coined by economist Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs, it symbolizes the rise of once-poor countries (“emerging markets”) into economic powerhouses. More recently, the message has been: The rapid expansion of emerging-market countries will help rescue Europe, the United States and Japan — the “old world” — from their economic turmoil. The BRICs will prop up the global demand for industrial goods and commodities (oil, foodstuffs, metals).
For a while, the prospect seemed plausible. During the 2007-09 financial crisis, some BRIC countries — China, most notably — adopted large stimulus programs, and others just grew rapidly. In 2010, China’s economy expanded 10.4 percent, India’s 10.1 percent and Brazil’s 7.5 percent. Today’s outlook is more muted. In 2012, China will grow 7.8 percent, India 4.9 percent and Brazil 1.5 percent, according to the latest projections from the International Monetary Fund. Although the IMF predicts slight pickups in 2013, some economists forecast further declines.