When it was first coined in 2001, the term ‘BRIC’ seemed little more than a quirky acronym. Since then, the term has quickly become universal shorthand for the emerging markets’ ascent in the global economy.
Brazil, Russia, India and China – and South Africa since it joined the fold in 2010 – have all come a long way since former Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jim O’Neill first spotted their potential 14 years ago. Despite riding out the global financial crisis remarkably well, the mighty BRICS have not been left completely unscathed. The average growth rate of each country has slipped by more than two percentage points over the past decade.
At a recent IBA conference, From BRICS to MINT… and Beyond!, O’Neill said that China was the only one of the original BRICS that hadn’t disappointed him, clocking an average growth rate so far this decade of eight per cent. Although he acknowledged weaker commodity prices were partly to blame for poorer performances in Brazil and Russia, he maintained his view that rule of law is vital for economic success. If all these countries can ‘succeed in doing all the things that are necessary for rule of law, then they’re going to get somewhere’, he says.
On 7 April, 23-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oliveira entered a school in Rio de Janeiro brandishing a gun. He killed 12 students and injured more than 20 others before shooting himself. Although Brazil has become increasingly associated with violence and gun crime in recent years, this was the first time in the country’s history that a school has been the target of a shooting, drawing comparisons with the 1999 Columbine massacre.
After weeks of speculation, Dilma Rousseff has been elected president of Brazil. 62-year-old Ms Rousseff has never held elected office before but was voted in yesterday as the country’s first female president.
After a bitter fight to the end in which both sides accused one another of corruption and misconduct, Rousseff, of the governing Working Party, won 56% to 44% against her rival José Serra, a candidate for the Social Democrat’s Party.
She was always tipped as the ideal successor of outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and enjoyed his support throughout the campaign. He was always praised as an ambassador of the poor and leaves office after two terms with a sky-high popularity rating.
In her victory speech, Rousseff announced that one of her first priorities would be to “eradicate poverty” and pull 20 million Brazilians out of poverty. She hopes to build on Lula’s achievements, since under his government the country witnessed increased minimum wage, increased per capita income and reduced unemployment.
Rousseff’s victory is also a huge victory for the left across Latin America. Washington is unlikely to welcome the news, since, in spite of efforts to cooperate more closely with Latin America than his predecessor, Obama’s administration has continued Bush’s “rollback” strategy against the rise of the leftist governments in the continent over the past decade.
On another level, her victory also points to the ascendancy of female politicians throughout the continent. Of the major countries alone, Argentina has already had two female presidents, Isabel Peron, the first woman to become president of a republic, from 1974 to 1976, and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who has been in power since 2007. In Chile, Michelle Bachelet ruled from 2006 until March 2010. Now Brazil has its first female president.
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