Heady growth in the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS countries) helped fuel global economic expansion and financial market rallies in recent years.
But now things aren't looking so hot, notes Stanford University economist Michael Boskin
, chairman of President George H.W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers.
"A few years ago, pundits and policymakers were predicting that the BRICS would be the new engines of global growth. Naive extrapolation of rapid growth led many people to imagine an ever-brighter future for these economies — and, thanks to them, for the rest of the world as well," he writes on Project Syndicate.
"But now the bloom is off the rose. The economies of Brazil and Russia are contracting, while those of China and South Africa have slowed substantially. Only India’s growth rate has stayed up, now slightly exceeding China’s." Chinese GDP grew 7.4 percent last year, the slowest rate in 24 years.
And the BRICS' trouble may continue, Boskin says.
As for China, it and the United States are wrapped in conflict over a number of issues, from China's discriminatory trade policy to its menacing moves toward its neighbors, and hedge fund legend George Soros
"Both the U.S. and China have a vital interest in reaching an understanding because the alternative is so unpalatable," he writes in The New York Review of Books. "The benefits of an eventual agreement between China and the U.S. could be equally far-reaching."
Soros cites the recent agreement between President Obama and Chinese strongman Xi Jinping on climate-change policy as an example.
"If this approach could be extended to other aspects of energy policy and to the financial and economic spheres, the threat of a military alignment between China and Russia would be removed and the prospect of a global conflict would be greatly diminished," he says.
"That is worth trying .... Fully recognizing the difficulties, the U.S. government should nevertheless make a bona fide attempt at forging a strategic partnership with China."
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