British economist Jim O’Neill wrote a paper in 2001 on the world's leading emerging economies — Brazil, Russia India and China — and coined the term “Bric” to encapsulate them. Soon after this SA was invited to join those countries in forming an actual emerging markets bloc, and Brics was born. It seemed a good idea at the time.

It should be mentioned up front that O’Neill was not in favour of SA’s inclusion as he believed the country was small and economically insignificant in comparison with those of the original Bric members. The economic data supported this but the acronym was catchy and left-leaning politicians in particular were keen to encourage the development of a multipolar world that was not run by America and its surrogates...

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