The group of countries that will be added to make the enlarged Brics — Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — have little in common other than a deep suspicion of the motives of the US and its close allies. That’s a state of mind shared by left-wing opinion everywhere, including in the US itself. If the unlikely combination of kingdoms, autocracies and genuine democracies is to become more than another talk shop with an anti-West bias, it should take an important lesson from the economic development of the US and Europe.

What has been of great benefit to the US, and to Europe since it established a common European market and the euro, are their highly significant common currency areas. The same money is used everywhere in the US and Europe as a medium of exchange and unit of account. Thus, unpredictable rates of exchange when buying or selling goods and services across frontiers are avoided, as are the direct costs of converting one currency into another...

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