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Economists in the past decade or so have been oddly busy creating catchy acronyms for groups of countries which are thought to have something in common.

We’ve had PIGS for the four EU countries with the most severe economic problems (Portugal, Greece, Spain and either Ireland or Italy), which has sometimes appeared as PIIGS when both the last two countries are included.

Latest figures show RBS is the most vulnerable to the crisis with £64.4bn in the so-called PIIGS countries, including £42.3bn in the bailed-out Irish economy and £14.6bn in Spain.

Daily Mail, 9 Jun. 2012.

Equally common is BRIC for what are these days referred to as newly advanced economic countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), coined by the economist Jim O’Neill in 2001, though why he didn’t choose the better acronym CRIB is unknown.

While every story is different, the common theme for the BRICs is that they have exhausted their catch-up growth models, let credit booms get out of hand, and neglected reforms while the going was good.

Daily Telegraph, 29 Jan 2014.

A try in 2009 by Robert Ward of the Economist Intelligence Unit to popularise CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa, countries with diverse economies and a young, growing population) never caught on. Nor did EAGLES, “Emerging And Growth-Leading Economies” (Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan, and Turkey).

Jim O’Neill is now trying to popularise MINT, a name that was created by the fund managers Fidelity, for what he thinks will be the second generation of emerging market pace-setters:

Now O’Neill is back with his forecast for the next wave of emerging economic giants — the Mint countries: Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. According to the influential former chief economist at the investment bank Goldman Sachs, these nations are strategically located, with large working populations and the potential for double-digit annual economic growth.

Sunday Times, 26 Jan. 2014.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 1 Feb. 2014

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

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Last modified: 1 February 2014.