PIGS, CIVETS and other creature economies…

August 4, 2010

Given the ubiquity of BRICs and PIGS, it seems everyone else in the financial and business world is attempting to conjure up catchy acronyms to group economies with similar traits. All with varying degrees of success. BRITAIN-WEATHER/

HSBC chief Michael Geogehan has been championing ‘CIVETS‘ to describe Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa as the next tier of developing economies poised for spectacular growth.

Evoking the skunk-like animal blamed for the spread of the deadly SARS outbreak in Asia is not exactly auspicious but then it will probably be less offensive than the porcine moniker for Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. The collective term — with permutations such as PIIGGS to include Ireland and Great Britain among the list of debt-ridden countries — has been denounced by politicians in Portugal and Spain.

In less troubled times, of course, these economies were often dubbed ‘Club Med’, with all its associations of sun-saturated holidays by the sea.

No such allusive qualities exist in PriceWaterhouseCoopers‘ ‘E-7′. The consultancy’s term for fast-growing emerging economies China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey could well be the name of a face-cream or some other chemical compound.

Also carrying a hint of the pharmaceutical is  ‘N-11‘ — the handy shorthand for Goldman Sach‘s ‘Next 11′ group of countries that could take their place as the world’s largest economies alongside the original BRIC giants Brazil, Russia, India and China this century.

Goldman, of course, is behind that most widely used acronym for the ‘Big Four’ of emerging economies. Others have jumped onto the bandwagon, tagging other developing economies to the original four to come up with ‘BRICK’ (‘K’ for South Korea) and the hard-to-pronounce ‘BRIMC’ (‘M’ for Mexico).  Less intuitive permutations include ‘BRICA’, which includes Arab economies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and ‘BRICET’, which includes Eastern Europe and Turkey.

All this may be dismissed as marketing but acronyms can grow to possess powers of their own.

Brazil, Russia, India and China held their first BRIC summit last year, self-consciously embracing the acronym as a sign of their arrival on the world stage.

Perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek, the head of British mother and baby products retailer Mothercare has referred to these four economies as CRIBs. One wonders if the quartet would have taken so readily to the ‘BRIC’ acronym if it was thus scrambled.

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Why Egypt or Saudi Arabia? Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and even the UAE I understand but not Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

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