Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The CRIMBITS countries

Jim O'Neill at Goldmans has graciously decided to admit four, no doubt very grateful, new countries into the BRIC category.

Brazil, Russia, India and China have done quite well over the nine years since the BRICs were invented. The caveat is Russia, which remains highly dependent on oil and gas prices, and has institutions which are, shall we say, not fully trusted by everyone. But the other three have been firmly endorsed by events as serious players - well beyond the traditional emerging markets category.

The lucky new candidates are South Korea, Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia.

I am slightly surprised to see South Korea in here, as it's already an OECD member, with GDP per capita on a par with several European countries (though not quite caught up with any of the Western European EU members). It is ranked around 32nd in the world in GDP per capita - depending on exchange rates - higher than any of the original BRICs (Russia at 54 is the highest of those). But I guess if it helps O'Neill market his investment funds, it's a good candidate.

The other three seem quite good choices - with fairly large populations, per capita GDP in the middle ranks but growing fast, and well located to be influential in their regions.

But the most important question now is: what is the correct acronym for the new grouping? BRIC was very catchy, and that is surely a major reason for the perception of these economies as a group of similar characteristics. It is harder to come up with a good abbreviation for eight countries, but I'm going to have a go.

We could just add four letters to the end of BRIC - BRICMIST, for example, or BRICMITS. The latter sounds like a plural, which is good - the PIIGS acronym for dodgy European sovereign debt worked quite well because it sounds natural to refer to a group as "they" if it ends with an S. Of course, the idea of "pigs" is not bad at conveying the impression of greedy overborrowing. Does BRICMITS have the same clarity? I'm imagining someone catching a brick in a baseball glove, and I don't really see that as a compelling image.

So if we allow the original BRICs to be broken up and reconstituted, we have more options.

STRIMBIC trips of the tongue but I'm unsure what it means. BITSCRIM sounds like a programming methodology; TICBRIMS isn't bad, though it sounds like the noise a time bomb might make; and SMIRCBIT just makes me think of Vladimir Putin. When I'm playing Scrabble I just rearrange the letters at random until I find something that looks convincing. RIMBICTS, BRIMTICS, STRICBIM, CRIBMIST, CRITBISM, MRBITICS, TIMBRISC, TRIMBICS, BRITCISM (like normal criticism, but done by a British person), CRIMBIST, BRICTISM. I like that last one - it might describe a philosophy of guided state capitalism combined with gangsterism, heavy industry and mining, and a gradual military buildup.

But I think I've hit on the right answer.

CRIMBITS combines an impression of criminality (you all know which of the eight countries I'm talking about - though now that I think of it, more than one of them would fit); with the idea that these are bits of the world economy, several of them on the Pacific rim, and with the convenience of that S at the end. The lucky three billion citizens of those countries will be overjoyed to know that they can now officially call themselves Crimbits. Spread the word!

Update: Alan Beattie at the FT obviously didn't get the memo. How dare he come up with his own version of my joke.

1 comment:

Min said...

BRICKMIT

:)