That may now be changing, according to the folks at Eurasia Group. I recently had lunch with Eurasia's head, Ian Bremmer, who pointed out how irrelevant the old "BRICs" term to describe high growth emerging economies is, when at least one of the three letters (R for Russia) is endanger of falling out of out of the acronym altogether thanks to recession related economic and political turmoil.
I wonder what effect this will have on student diversity in coming years. It's certainly going to put pressure on those much lauded Ivy league programs to offer free tuition to lower and even middle income students -- Harvard had announced a free ride to students who come from families earning $60,000 or less annually a few years back.
The idea of a Bangladeshi bank finding a market in America while Wall Street implodes is fascinating for all sorts of reasons. Aside from the fact that Grameen consistently pulls millions of people out of poverty each year, there are two particularly interesting things about the bank that are worth noting amidst the global financial crisis.
As anyone who works in media or finance can tell you, mandatory pay cuts are becoming as common as layoffs. Yet, these industries are actually exceptional—one mystery of this recession is that overall average hourly earnings in the U.S. have continued to grow, even as jobs disappear.
Migrant workers are among the most vulnerable in any nation. There's been a lot of worry during this financial crisis that growing unemployment in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere would result in a wave of migrant job losses, forcing immigrants to return to their home countries (and back to even more precarious situations).
What's going on? Nothing very good, according to economists Julian Jessop and Paul Ashworth at Capital Economics in London. In a research note out this week, Capital pointed out that while rising inflation prior to the onset of the crisis has kept American wages from collapsing, that same inflation has also cut the value of the dollar, and so decreased workers' spending power.
As playwright Arthur Miller once observed, "an era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." That's exactly what Newsweek columnist Ruchir Sharma (who happens to have the rather impressive day job of running emerging markets for Morgan Stanley Investment Management when he's not cranking out copy for us) recently observed to me.
Give the Chinese free health care. Goldman Sachs' chief economist Jim O'Neill told me that he thinks the Chinese government's recent announcement that it plans to offer basic state health care to 90 percent of its population by 2011 is the "most important policy decision in the world at the moment." That's saying something given the slew of executive decisions being taken every other day in the U.S, Europe and elsewhere to avert recession.
As we all know by now, the only companies making serious money these days are those that sell stuff that is cheap – Wal-Mart and McDonald's were the lone stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average that ended 2008 with a gain. What's not as well known is how fast a group of new emerging market giants is coming on thanks to the recession.