It may end up sounding like a famous ball-point pen maker, but an argument is being made that Goldman Sach’s famous marketing device, the BRICs, should really be the BICs. Does Russia really deserve to be a BRIC, asks Anders Åslund, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, in an article for Foreign Policy.
Åslund, who is also co-author with Andrew Kuchins of “The Russian Balance Sheet”, reckons the Russia of
Putin and Medvedev is just not worthy of inclusion alongside Brazil, India and China in the list of blue-chip economic powerhouses. He writes:
The country’s economic performance has plummeted to such a dismal level that one must ask whether it is entitled to have any say at all on the global economy, compared with the other, more functional members of its cohort.
I have just returned from Moscow, which is always dreary around this season. But this year, the mood among the capital’s eloquent liberal economists has hit a new low. For the last seven years, Russia has undertaken no significant economic reforms. Instead, the state has been living off oil and gas, like a lucky but undeserving rentier.”
Economically, Åslund has the numbers on his side. The International Monetary Fund estimates that the Russian economic will contract by 6.7 percent this year, while China will grow 8.5 percent and India 5.4 percent. There is less of a case for Brazil, with a contraction of 0.7 percent projected, but it is still doing far better than Russia.
But the BRICs concept is not just about economics. As mentioned, it is a marketing device to urge investors to focus on the big emerging players. From an investment standpoint, it could be argued that Russia is leading the BRICs. Its stock market is up 128 percent this year versus around 80 percent for the other three.
At very least, however, Russia’s economic underperformance and stock market outperformance does suggest it is the outlier of the group.
Do read the interesting comments and counter-comments fr readers of this provoking report.