Skip to content

Parag Khanna, Dambisa Moyo, Daniel Altman and Anand Giridharadas discuss which countries have reached the same stage of advanced economic development as the Big Four-Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Dambisa Moyo:  We’re certainly in a world of trial and error right now.  I mean, if you look at the three fundamental key aspects that economists focus on, capital, labor and productivity, there’s a lot of be optimistic about all of those countries.  They’ve got a lot money, they’re sitting on vast populations, and they’re good labor dynamics and productivity wise, they are importing a lot of technological advancements.  But the fact of the matter is, we don’t really know.  I mean, I think if we look at what China is doing, I think that they will, in the foreseeable future, I think continue to pursue very aggressive courses which will deliver.  

Parag Khanna:  So of all of these, which are the top picks? 

Daniel Altman:  Well I think there’s another category which we do know is probably on the right track.  And it’s when we introduce political economy that we find it.  We see a lot of countries where there’s usually been a center-right government that’s come in and introduced sort of good housekeeping seal of approval economic policies and then there’s a center-left government that follows them.  And legitimizes those policies by spreading out some of the gains from the economic growth that has resulted.  We saw this in Brazil with Lula, but even before that, we saw it in Chile with Bachelet, but now we’re seeing it in Uruguay with Mojica, we might be seeing it in Peru and Columbia soon.  And this is the classic countries which is preparing for stable, long-term growth. 

Parag Khanna:  And all of the countries you have just named are in Latin America and they embody this new left consensus, but in fact it derives to some extent from the gains that were made by the center-right governments that you were talking about. 

Daniel Altman: Right. It’s not that pendulum that was swinging between the populace left-wing governments and the authoritarian right-wing governments.  That pendulum has stilled in the center. 

Parag Khanna:  But most people, when they talk about emerging markets are really talking about Asia. 

Anand Giridharadas:  They are.  And I think one of the things to reflect on when we think about BRICKS and VISTA and you know, all the other alphabet soups is that there’s a kind of, there can be a curse of being BRICK, which is that it tempts countries to sometimes think the work is done.  And a lot of what happened, and I saw this in India and I think it probably happened elsewhere also.  When you get called BRICK by Goldman, a certain class of the country, it kind of feels we’re all set.  And a lot of that hard slog of development as opposed to the sexy stuff of building software companies and great university campuses, the hard slog of getting the little things right over a 50-year journey actually fall away from the conversation.  So I think actually sometimes it’s not very helpful to keep anointing people with these acronyms. 

Parag Khanna:  So even when the country finds a rose in its locker, it still has to prove itself fundamental, so very interesting insights on which emerging markets are going to emerge.  More on that and other relevant topics at