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Ever since Goldman Sach's Jim O'Neill came up with the idea of BRICs as an investment universe, competitors have been indulging in a global game of acronyms. Why not add Korea to Brazil, Russia, India and China and get a proper BRICK? Or include South Africa, as it wants, to properly upper case the "s" - BRICS or BRICKS?
Completely new lists have also been compiled -- HSBC chief Michael Geoghegan has championed CIVETS to describe Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa (ignoring the fact, as Reuters' Sebastian Tong points out here, that a civet is a skunk-like animal blamed for the spread of the deadly SARS outbreak in Asia).
Fun though some of this is -- and no one can argue that BRICs has not had an impact -- there is a danger that the acronym could become more relevant than the actual countries involved. For example, imagine Mexico, Uruguay, Panama, Philippines, Egypt, Turkey and Sierre Leone being lumped together because they spell MUPPETS.
With this in mind, the Spanish bank BBVA is now arguing that what is needed is a more dynamic concept, one that can remain in place acronymically, so to speak, but allow for new entrants without the need to rewrite everything. Enter BBVA's EAGLEs -- an Emerging And Growth-Leading Economy, defined by its incremental GDP rather than absolute size. The founding 10 are China, India, Brazil, Korea, Indonesia, Russia, Mexico, Turkey, Egypt and Taiwan.
Joschka Fischer was never one to mince words when he was Germany's foreign minister in the late '90s and early noughts. So it is not overly surprising that he has painted a picture in a new post of a world with only two powers -- the United States and China -- and an ineffective and divided Europe on the sidelines.
More controversial, however, is his view that China will not only grow into the world's most important market over the coming years, but will determine what the world produces and consumes -- and that that will be green.
And the Nobel laureate for economics in 2010 is?
Thomson Reuters expert David Pendlebury might have an idea. At least one of the picks from his annual predictions of winners (economics, chemisty, and so on) has won a Nobel prize over the years. Here is his short-list for economics this year.
* Alberto Alesina of Harvard University in Massachusetts for research on the relationship between politics and macroeconomics, especially politico-economic cycles.
Mike Dicks, chief economist and blogger at Barclays Wealth, has identified what he sees as the three biggest problems facing the global economy, and conveniently found that they are linked with three separate regions.
First, there is the risk that U.S., t consumers won't increase spending. Dicks notes that the increase in U.S. consumption has been "extremely moderate" and far less than after previous recessions. His firm has lowered is U.S. GDP forecast for 2011 to 2.7 percent from a bit over 3 percent.
Readers of MacroScope who live in the northern hemisphere will be gearing up for some summer reading.
James Montier, the market psychologist who is also an equity analyst at Societe Generale, has come up with his annual recomendations of what to read. The full list is here, but for the current economic and market crisis he has this to offer:
Finance ministers and central bankers from the G20 meet this weekend in the English countryside to discuss the world's financial and economic crisis. With this in mind, MacroScope asked a number of economists what they want to see from the meeting and the G20 summit to follow later and what they expect to see.
The answer, in short, appears to be that much is needed but not much expected.
Paul Mortimer-Lee, head of market economics, BNP Paribas:
"There will be progress on agreeing that regulation needs to be more effective and more effectively co-ordinated on a global scale but I am unconvinced we are going to go a long way further. Some populist posturing on bank bonuses etc should be expected. The less is achieved in other areas the more this will get played up. On bank recapitalisation, they will all agree strong capital is a good thing, but in no way do I expect a concerted plan -- it's driven by events and the exigencies of the local banking system.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a name. We are living through "The Great Recession". Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, used the term to describe our current angst on a trip to Africa this week. He may not have been the first to use it -- we have found other citations, including JPMorgan -- but the guessing here is that it may stick with him because of his role.
It's a pretty neat moniker, actually. It resonates, of course, with "Great Depression" but without the soup lines and Hoovervilles. At the same time, it differentiates between the severe contraction now under way and run-of-the-mill economic misery. It also has the snappiness that media folks like -- hence this post.