B R I C, in case you don't know, is the acronym used by economists, and generally anyone who speaks in acronyms, to describe the cluster of economic similarity in Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The acronym is also used in the outsourcing community to describe the same four major sourcing locales.

I've been digging up some really basic economic data this week, as part of a side project, and something struck me.

Brazil and Russia must have great PR firms.

Here's the breakdown:
  • China is the second largest economy on the planet.
  • India is the third largest economy on the planet.
  • Brazil is eighth.
  • Russia is ninth.
If you look at population, which is a good rough way to correlate how much potential value can be added to an economy through human effort, it breaks down thus:
  • China is first with 20% of the people on the planet.
  • India is second with 17% of all humans.
  • Brazil comes in fifth, an order of magnitude removed, at 3%.
  • Russia brings it home in ninth with 2% of our species.
My point with this is that there is a huge disparity between these economies. To lump them together makes a nice acronym, but aside from being able to say "BRIC" as if it were written "brick", I don't see a lot of correlation. I guess there's an assertion that Russia and Brazil have "also" globalized their economies, but wow, they have a long way to go to catch up with the juggernauts that are India and China.

This graph says it all. One data set is the relative contribution of these countries to worldwide GDP (using IMF PPP analysis from 2007). The other is population contribution to the worldwide total. When you look at it this way, the difference between the "BR" and the "IC" is striking. You could argue even that "BRI" pales in comparison to "C."

Either way you look at it though, Brazil and Russia got a great deal out of this grouping. There may be other attributes to these economies that make them highly correlative, but to the average lay person, this is really a vast misrepresentation. It makes one suspect that a cabal of Brazilian and Russian business interests had a hand in the original grouping.

For anyone interested, the United States ranks first in GDP (behind only the cumulative total of the EU member states), and third in population.

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