BRIC is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The BRIC economies, or the “Big Four,” were collectively seen as emerging economic powerhouses. Economist Jim O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, introduced the acronym in his 2001 paper, “Building Better Global Economic BRICs.”
After the 2008-2009 financial crisis the economic and political fortunes of the Big Four began to diverge, and only India and China now appear to have met expectations.
O’Neill’s paper attracted a great deal of attention from economists and investors. The paper focused on the growing importance of these emerging market economies. Brazil, Russia, India, and China represent about 25% of the world’s landmass and 40% of its population. All have a wealth of natural resources, a growing population of upwardly mobile consumers, and rapidly improving infrastructures.
O’Neill’s paper theorized that India and China would grow to become the world’s leading suppliers of manufactured goods and services, respectively, while Brazil and Russia would become dominant raw materials suppliers. In addition, O’Neill surmised that by 2050, the combined economies of BRIC would surpass those of the world’s then-wealthiest countries.
O’Neill grouped these nations together because they had the potential to form an influential economic bloc, not because they had any existing political alliance or formal trading association. However, the nations began a series of annual international relations summits in 2009.
In 2010, South Africa was officially admitted as a BRIC nation following an invitation from China and the other BRIC nations. The admission of another fast-growing economic force transformed the original acronym into BRICS, for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
What Happened to the BRIC Nations
Brazil’s economy was showing great potential across agricultural, industry, and services sectors when it was defined as a BRIC. But the South American giant was still recovering from a recession when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, creating a public health crisis and causing what was expected to be its deepest slump on record.
Brazil has suffered two decades of low productivity growth due to a cumbersome business climate, among other factors.
Today, Russia is the source of about 20% of the world’s supplies of oil and natural gas. It has a wealth of other natural resources as well, including minerals and timber.
The Russian Federation’s economy fell off a cliff with the economic crisis in 2008, with gross domestic product falling to -7.8%, according to the World Bank.
It recovered, but geopolitical concerns and a reputation for corruption have combined to relegate Russa to the sidelines of global investment.
India’s middle class is larger than that of the United States. For that matter, Bollywood is bigger than Hollywood.
India blew through the Great Recession without a pause and now appears to be making a strong comeback from the COVID-19 crisis. Its economy overall was expected to grow by up to 12% in 2021.
China is no longer an emerging economy. It has emerged. It accounts for more than 19% of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021 and is projected to top 20% by 2025.