05 June 2012

BRICs: Can the Tail Wag the Dog?

Ever since the 2008 collapse of the great global economic bubble, the hopes of the chattering economic classes have ridden on the BRICs -- the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Aside from Russia, the BRICs have population heft and momentum, something most of the more advanced nations cannot claim. There is also a sense in those countries that it is somehow "their turn" to excel.

But what if the BRICs are only the tail to the global dog? If the dog is sick, can we really expect the tail to do everything the dog would normally be able to do?

The BRICs have been exporters to the more developed economies. But the more developed economies are sinking under dysfunctional policies and leaders. Can the BRICs succeed and prosper without developed markets to buy their resources and products?
Champions of the Submerging World

China is economically dependent upon exports to Europe and North America -- markets that have not been doing well over the past few years. Brazil is economically dependent upon not only Europe and North America, but is very much dependent upon Chinese demand as well.
As goes China, so goes Brazil. China's insatiable appetite for oil has benefited Brazil over the past few years. If China's economy continues to lose momentum because of the European crisis, that will impact Brazil ... even if Brazil doesn't have as many direct ties to Europe's consumers and banking system.

"Brazil is a play on China. There are concerns that Brazil is overexposed to China," said Carlos Constantini, head of research at Itaú BBA, an investment bank in São Paulo. That's a big reason why Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock market index is down more than 6% year-to-date.

India's sharp decline is perhaps the most surprising since that economy was thought to be the least exposed to Europe. Russia, however, could really suffer if the global economy doesn't show some signs of life soon. Crude oil prices have plunged below $100 a barrel to the mid-$80s. Crude prices are now down more than 20% from their highs of the year. And oil could dip further if the Euro-wreck leads to significantly lower demand for crude worldwide.

"Russia was a darling for awhile and there was all this talk about how oil would never fall below $100 a barrel. Their economy is so levered to oil and commodities and they haven't been able to diversify." Mata said. _Thick as a BRIC
Cracking BRICs

It is true that India's economy -- despite minimal exposure to the European crisis -- is starting to slump. India is still desperately poor, after all, and its government is abysmally corrupt. Nothing kills a nascent economic boom so quickly as greedy governments.

One interesting development out of all this economic turmoil, is that Russia's Putin is turning to the Russian far East and to Russia's relationship with China, in an attempt to hedge his global bets.

Much of Putin's far East and China strategy should be seen as wishful thinking: China's population is still on the ascendancy, looking for lebensraum, while the ethnic Russian population is steadily shrinking away and leaving a huge void.

Putin's attempts to engage China in joint industrial and technological enterprise are likewise built on shifting sands. China has always appropriated the intellectual property of its "partners," and proceeded to to make pirated and counterfeited products. Russia is feeling the sting from multiple thefts of designs of planes, ships, submarines . . . If Putin proceeds with his farcical plans (see above article link), Russia will feel that sting yet again . . . and again . . . and again . . .

When Putin attempts to lock China into a long-term gas contract at today's inflated prices, he will be bucking the tide of China's development of its own vast shale gas resources. Somehow, it is unlikely that China's leaders will be amused at Putin's condemnation of the "fracking" process, which China is using to develop its tight gas deposits. Particularly when Russia is using the exact same fracking process to develop its own shale resources in Siberia.

An attempt by BRIC nations to circle the wagons and to feed each others' prosperity -- without outside input from the more developed economic world -- is not likely to succeed at this early stage. But it is possible that the US will eject the anti-free market and anti-energy policies of the Obama administration, in November's election. And it is possible that at least some countries of Europe will turn away from demographic decline and the green dieoff agenda.

If those things should happen, the health of the dog may be restored, and the tail may be set to wagging once again.

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Blogger neil craig said...

It isn't just the BRICs (or occasionally BRICKS, inclusing Korea & South Africa). They are merely the bigger economuies outside Europe and North America, but the trend is general. The world economy is growing at 4.8% and has been around this since before the "world recession" started. If we exclude the EU and USA the HOUSE countries (Humanity outwith the US & Europe - my own acronym) are growing at an ABVERAGE of 7%.

I am convinced the RS & EU could too if we weren't hamstringing ourselves with Luddite bans on nuclear, shale gas, GM, modular housing & an ever growing list of rechnology bans & pouring trillions into windmillery & government parasitism.

Friday, 08 June, 2012  

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