This piece, placing the Bolsonaro victory in context, highlights how predicting the future is a fool’s errand. The global landscape today is hardly what we would have anticipated nearly two decades ago. BRICs countries (Brazil, Russia India and China) are not the new global powerhouse, but rather sliding back to autocratic rule and populist appeal.
By Steve LeVine
On Nov. 30, 2001, Jim O’Neill, chief economist of Goldman Sachs, released a 16-page white paper declaring a new geo-economic bloc that he said would supplant the current world order. If you were an investor, “BRIC” — Brazil, Russia, India and China — was the way to go.
Why it matters: Almost exactly 17 years later, the BRICs are emblematic of a very different world, but not the one O’Neill foresaw — one that is autocratic, nationalist and turbulent.
When O’Neill made his pronouncement, it caught fire. It was regarded as brilliant, and O’Neill himself as a seer. The world was still seven years away from the financial crash, but somehow it seemed right, as O’Neill proposed, that two of the G7 nations step aside to make way for a future G9 that would include all the four newcomer economic giants.
But that’s not what has happened: Only China took on the economic stature that he O’Neill described, becoming central to the global economy. India has grown fast as well, but has not become a global engine.