Thursday, July 15, 2010

The RIB Countries

The elite nations were nicknamed BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China).  The very un-elite nations are referred to as PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain).  I propose a change to the membership of the elite.

China is in danger of losing its exalted status.  Blasphemy?  Not at all.  The reasons for this have been discussed in these very pages

While the Chinese economy grew at 10.3%  in the second quarter over the year before, this was significantly less than the 11.9% realized in the first quarter.  Beijing has undertaken efforts to cool down its economy, which shows signs of inflation and a property bubble.  Recent measures enacted include increased required down payments and extreme restrictions on buying additional properties.

Although the slowdown was expected, other recently-released figures indicate that the economy could be cooling more quickly than forecast.  Industrial production, which grew by 13.7% in June relative to the prior year, was much lower than May's 16.5% annualized increase.

The World Bank also cites factors such as a declining labor force due to China's demographics and lower increases in total factor productivity as reasons to expect China's growth rate to slow.  It expects potential annual growth to be about 8.4% between 2010 and 2015, down from 9.6% from 1995 to 2009.  From 2016 to 2020 the rate could fall further to 7% on average.  If the property bubble should burst and get ugly, this will undoubtedly reduce growth prospects even more.

India, on the other hand, does NOT have the same demographic issues plaguing China, which has taken steps to limit its birth rate.  Long-term growth requires a pyramidal population structure.

India has not been growing as fast as China, but its growth may be more sustainable and healthy. The Indian economy grew by 8.6% last quarter.   It is not believed to be in danger of over-heating.

Brazil and Russia are among the very few countries with increasing oil reserves and output, a very critical asset during a time of "Peak Oil" and a growing possibility of military conflict in the Middle East.

Therefore, I'd like to propose that the elite nations now become known as RIB (Russia, India and Brazil).

The Chinese miracle may very well be coming to a pre-mature ending.  The Shanghai Composite is looking very unhealthy.

Marko's Take

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