Money managers under the microscope
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.