The acronym BRIC was coined by Jim O’Neill in his now-distant 2001 paper, but Brazil, Russia, India and China are still considered to be at a similar stage of economic development. The truth is, however, that the BRIC countries are not that alike. They have quite different economies – and quite different issues.
B is for Brazil
Brazil has in the last decade turned itself into a place where it is very expensive to do business. And government is to blame. Not only has the tax burden risen from 22% of GDP in the 1980s to 36% today, but the tax system is ridiculously complex. Unfortunately most of the money goes on pensions and wasteful spending on the unreasonably big government and not on the reforms and innovations.
The other problem is tiresome overregulation, even record low interest rates are of no use to the economy. Business leaders believe that uncertainty over regulations holding vital investment in infrastructure.
R is for Russia
Russia faces serious political problems and its economical structure may no longer be regarded as that of a BRIC country.
The major source of problems, of course, is the 2008 economic crisis. The Russian economy experienced the highest capital flight among the BRICs in the last decade. In August 2011 alone, USD 500 million was taken out of Russian investment funds, and the drop continues. The Russian Ministry of Finance estimated capital flight for 2011 to more than USD 80 billion, and that major capital investment cannot be expected before 2013.
According to Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, in one week in September 2011, investors withdrew 315 million dollars from Russian capital market, which is double the capital flight from China and India for that week.
Even the Russian press has noticed that the Goldman Sachs prognosis of a lower global growth rate for 2012/2013 has made Russia look like an outsider within BRIC.
Despite the fact that Russia is the largest oil exporter in the world and the second best in natural gas, it is not what is happening with the other BRIC countries.
I is for India
India lacks a big export industry. In this situation it is unlikely to see essential growth in exports in the near future. What is even more important that India has a substantial account deficit and to cover it $50-70 billion in investments is needed every year.
Unlike the other BRIC countries, India is still desperately poor. Widespread corruption and lack of jobs in the country with rapidly growing population are also the reasons to worry.
C is for China
China′s validity in BRIC has never been questioned. It is not only China′s rapid growth but also political weight on the international stage that put it ahead and above the other three.
And even though China′s economy may be slowing, it is still the best investment destination of the four big emerging markets. The thing is – market should stop thinking of China as a 10 percent galloping state. China is getting past being just about quantity. So the growth may be slowing but it is still at a very high rate.
The GDP of China’s economy has increased from $1.57tn to nearly $6.3tn, rising to number 2 in the world ranking. What is even more important, China has transformed into a state that exports capital and manufacturing from mainly agricultural country. And now it has more and more possibilities to strengthen further its influence on the international arena.
The magnitude of Chinese economy and Beijing′s ability to drive the economy away from troubles make it less sensitive than huge but less controllable states like India, the oligarchic Russia or overregulated Brazil. So is China just another brick in the wall? Not quite, not quite.