The BRIC acronym was coined in 2001, in order to group together the rapidly developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. In 2010, South Africa was appended to this grouping. The share of the global economy as measured by GDP increased from 11% to 30% from 1990 to 2014.
The rise of the BRICS nations has been less smooth since then, in addition to an increased disparity in terms of performance within the group.
According to Ed Smith of Rathbones,
"The BRICS group has only ever really been about China and India. Russia and Brazil had neither the economic nor the demographic clout that India and China possessed."
Russia and Brazil have contributed less than 5% of the growth in global GDP and growth in the global workforce since 2005. China and India have contributed 35% and 40% respectively.
China and India have the advantages of extremely large populations, with approximately 1.4 billion each, while Brazil has 200 million, Russia 140 million and South Africa 56 million. Leading John Redwood of Charles Stanley to assert that : "The five BRICS are more united by their differences than by their similarities"
Paul McNamara of GAM says that: "China and India matter a lot; the other two are secondary".
The BRICS countries all have different hurdles to overcome, from Russia's dysfunctional institutions to South Africa's political instability. Russia has suffered from a fall in global oil prices and western economic sanctions. Brazil is emerging from a political and economic crisis.
Ed Smith estimates that the growth rate of the BRICS nations in the decade to come will be half of that recorded in the previous decade. China will remain the star of the BRICS grouping, however "if India opens up and reforms, investors should begin to devote more of their attention to the subcontinent."
The diversity of the BRICS grouping, while making the total alignment of all members of the group difficult to see, could actually benefit investors.
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