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Coined by Jim O’Neill, then chief economist for Goldman Sachs, in 2001, BRIC is an acronym for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China combined. This term was altered in 2010 with the formal acceptance of South Africa into the BRIC grouping. To reflect the inclusion of South Africa into the BRIC countries, the group was renamed the BRICS, with the addition of the S reflecting the membership of South Africa.

In 2003, O’Neill’s team at Goldman Sachs produced a report that said that by 2039 the BRIC economies taken together could overtake the six largest Western economies in scale. (This date was later revised to 2032.) The notion that the United States and Europe faced economic decline was triggered by the events of September ...

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