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South Africa invited to BRIC table


So South Africa has found a place with the BRICs — although as this story explains that appears to be more about political calculation than any reflection of its relatively puny economic weight.

If South Africa is joining the BRICs then it will certainly add to the debate over what the relevance of the group is both as a political club and as a buzzword for a bunch of dynamic emerging giants to which investors might want to shift some money — and there are now a collection of BRIC funds out there to help those who seek to.

The term was invented by Jim O’Neill, now the chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, in 2001 and was very much about the latter.

But since then the group has taken on a political life of its own. The four countries, seeing at least some common interests in a less US-centric world, have consulted each other on occasion.

South Africa is due to attend a BRIC summit in China next year.

At that level, the question may be the perennial one of how many blocs the world really needs.

If nothing else, there must be a limit to the number of meetings the various leaders can bear to attend.

And as the number of members inflates away from the core group, do they risk irrelevance by bringing too many others on board?

From the asset allocation viewpoint, can the fact that the group has decided to invite one of its friends to join mean that on that basis some investors might feel obliged to embrace the new member too?

If so, then what if the BRICs invite others too?

Might the expansion of the political group to South Africa and perhaps beyond undermine the whole idea of investing in the BRICs as a bloc — if only by creating confusion as to who is in and who is out?

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