BRICS falling: On “Tiger” Fads

3 Nov

“Emerging markets” share of global GDP began a rapid climb, from 20 percent to the 34 percent that they represent today (attributable in part to the rising value of their currencies)blah blah. But after all that BRICs boosterism we have a few sobering remarks. Such is the world of economic fads.Chances are, some think, that the BRICs of 2000s will be similar to miracles such as Venezuela in the 1950s, Pakistan in the 1960s, or Iraq in the 1970s, countries that grew fast and then collapsed. The periphery-core barriers are hard to break, one is reminded.

Here’s from FA

“The notion of wide-ranging convergence between the developing and the developed worlds is a myth. Of the roughly 180 countries in the world tracked by the International Monetary Fund, only 35 are developed. The markets of the rest are emerging-and most of them have been emerging for many decades and will continue to do so for many more. The Harvard economist Dani Rodrik captures this reality well. He has shown that before 2000, the performance of the emerging markets as a whole did not converge with that of the developed world at all. In fact, the per capita income gap between the advanced and the developing economies steadily widened from 1950 until 2000. There were a few pockets of countries that did catch up with the West, but they were limited to oil states in the Gulf, the nations of southern Europe after World War II, and the economic “tigers” of East Asia. It was only after 2000 that the emerging markets as a whole started to catch up; nevertheless, as of 2011, the difference in per capita incomes between the rich and the developing nations was back to where it was in the 1950s”

Scores of emerging markets have failed to gain any momentum for sustained growth, and still others have seen their progress stall after reaching middle-income status. Malaysia and Thailand appeared to be on course to emerge as rich countries until crony capitalism, excessive debts, and overpriced currencies caused the Asian financial meltdown of 1997-98. Their growth has disappointed ever since. In the late 1960s, Burma (now officially called Myanmar), the Philippines, and Sri Lanka were billed as the next Asian tigers, only to falter badly well before they could even reach the middle-class average income of about $5,000 in current dollar terms. Failure to sustain growth has been the general rule, and that rule is likely to reassert itself in the coming decade.”

What about democracy or the idea that authoritarianism does better

” Of the 124 emerging-market countries that have managed to sustain a five percent growth rate for a full decade since 1980, 52 percent were democracies and 48 percent were authoritarian. At least over the short to medium term, what matters is not the type of political system a country has but rather the presence of leaders who understand and can implement the reforms required for growth.”


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