London — SA’s downgrade on Monday after Pravin Gordhan was fired as finance minister means three of the five Brics nations now have junk credit assessments at S&P Global Ratings. For dollar-based investors betting on the group’s stocks and bonds, the history of this decade suggests that that matters less — much less — than hedging the currency risk accompanying those investments. Jim O’Neill, the then chairperson of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, coined the term in his 2001 research note entitled Building Better Global Economic Brics. O’Neill argued that the emerging-market nations were under-represented in the various supranational forums, given their likely future contributions to global GDP. Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China held their first formal summit in 2009; SA officially joined the gang a year later. In terms of growth, Brazil has suffered the biggest decline as the economy slumped into a recession in 2014 and stayed there. All except India have seen GDP deterior...

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