Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Sometimes it's tough to take the media filter glasses off. We live in a world where all the important information is brought to us thanks to these internets, pity the fools that have to rely on the idiot box. So how is it that the most obvious of patterns are impossible to discern? The collage painted by the press should allow us to see the world how it really is, yet we miss the most obvious. Self-fulfilling prophecies such as last week's BRIC meeting spring to mind as the media simply brushed over the fact that the 4 nations that make up 43% of the world's population met last week to try to chart a mutually beneficial path through the future. The G8 will meet next month and there will be wall to wall reporting yet a group formed by the prediction of a Wall Street analyst gets swept under the carpet.

Reuters declares: Much-Trumpeted BRIC Summit Ends Quietly. "BRIC" is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China, the world's four major developing countries. Jim O'Neill, global head of economic research at Goldman Sachs, first started the idea of BRIC in 2001. While it's obvious today thanks to the economic growth of these countries, which averaged 10.7% from 2006-8, it was only the idle talk of an analyst predicting the economic world of 2050, when the four countries would together pass the G7 in size. Since then we've watched the US economy lead an implosion of western economic power as these four nations have made strategic manoeuvers to position themselves to be exactly what we knew they'd be, the masters of our world. With Brazil and Russia pumping out the raw resources, China and India will consume the world.

The June 16 summit in the Russian Urals city of Yekaterinburg marked a huge step toward BRIC cooperation as a group. The fact that they have now met formally is story enough, but at the same time, the Russian city hosted another meeting, this a more formal grouping, the SCO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with Iran, India, Mongolia and Pakistan as observer states). Even more interestingly, both India and Iran took part at the most senior level as the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended. Yes, just days after the election in Iran, Mahmoud was there, yet we barely heard a whisper of the meetings as his nation's spiral towards revolution captured our attention along with David Letterman's 14-year old rape inciting. Background buzz as we stumble towards a real new world order.

While BRIC countries account for 15 percent of the $60.7 trillion global economy, China is the world's largest holder of U.S. Treasuries with $767.9 billion while Russia holds around $400 billion in their foreign reserves. More importantly, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has made proposals on giving a greater role to the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights that echo ideas from Chinese central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan. China, Russia and Brazil have pledged to help capitalize the IMF as they seek more influence at the fund. Together, the BRIC have a 15-percent share of the world economy and a 42-percent share of global currency reserves. Last week Brazil and Russia joined China in announcing they would shift some $70 billion (50 billion euros) of reserves into multicurrency bonds issued by the International Monetary Fund. Tiring of the inequity of the system, Brazil, for example is the world's 10th largest economy, but has just 1.38 percent of the IMF board's votes, compared to 2.09 percent for Belgium, an economy one-third the size, they are starting to make noise about changing it.

Navel gazing is far more interesting as it seems more important whether or not Obama, and America, are doing enough, or meddling too much in the Iran election quagmire. The future is just the Heisenberg uncertainty principle at work, que sera, sera, plus there's the Jon and some chick thing to worry about, or Letterman. America has put the BRIC on the path to controlling the world, why would they need to worry about where the road goes? Of course looking forward to the year 2050 involves a myriad of uncertainties, it seems forecasts for when the combined BRIC GDP will pass the G7's are being revised with every new report, from 2050 to 2045 to 2032, sure to change again due to the current financial crisis. Of course they'll be potholes on the road to cooperation, not the least of which will be inter-BRIC conflict, particularly between China and Russia as they vie for dominance in Asia. China announced plans at the SCO summit to give $10 billion of loans to Central Asia, upstaging traditional power Russia whose promises of aid have not been fully delivered amid the financial crisis. But India's economy is projected to be 90% of the US while China will have grown to 130% by the year 2050. Not only will the BRIC dwarf the G7 in global importance, but the N11 (harder to make an acronym for an 11 nation group: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam. Maybe BEIIKMNPPTV) will rival the economic size of the present elite 7 nations.

Notice how all these numbers assume unlimited resources to achieve growth. There will be a far more interesting chess game played with a more level economic table. China locks up resources in African nations without any of those human rights strings attached. Russia is circling the arctic, winning the new polar race. Markets are necessary too, and the US is sure to remain an important one, making killing the greenback a double edged sword, especially for China. Comments by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev questioning the dollar's role pushed down the U.S. currency by 0.9 percent against other key units, thereby hurting the value of China's investments. Baby steps towards independence from the west and the dollar will be the key word, but they'll add up quicker than you think.


Phuck Politics said...

God I hope these countries crush us.

Shane said...

All in good time my friend...