Roubini and Bremmer: Russia Is No ‘BRIC’

Russia’s typical out-of-step response to global events – the latest its refusal to condemn the Assad regime in Syria – show its increasing insignificance on the world stage, Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics and Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, argue in an op-ed in the Financial Times.


Roubini – dubbed “Dr. Doom” for his now infamous prediction of the 2008 financial crash – and Bremmer say the latest diplomatic intransigence by Russia comes as no surprise, adding that “The G7+1 cannot become a G8 until Russia begins to act like a mature free-market democracy.”

BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India and China – is an acronym, coined in 2001 by Goldman Sachs asset manager Jim O’Neill, used to describe emerging heavyweight economies.

Roubini and Bremmer argue that the absence of President Vladimir Putin at the last G8 summit was barely noticed, because Russia can’t help with the euro zone crisis and contribute to socio-political problems in parts the Middle East.

Others in the BRIC club have managed to forge ahead, leaving Russia behind as an authoritarian state with Putin at the helm. Roubini and Bremmer say that China has managed to become the world’s second-largest economy on the back of a high-powered economic machine, India has produced some of the world’s most innovative private sector companies, and Brazil is an increasingly self-confident democracy with a well-diversified economy.

Capital flight is a chronic problem in Russia, the authors say, having worsened since Putin’s controversial re-election in March and socio-economic problems hamper its long term success.

Roubini and Bremmer say the country’s population is falling, it has poor healthcare, alcoholism is a social blight and well-educated Russians are leaving in search of better opportunities elsewhere.

The socio-political environment in Russia is strained and is a far cry from the democracy that Western governments practice, the authors argue. The large protests in the run-up to the elections in March were fueled by accusations of intimidation and coercion during campaigning, particularly by the Putin camp.

The U.S., they argue, should listen closely to those inside Russia who are working for an innovative, democratic, modern economy, rather than the Kremlin, because it is “neither a BRIC nor a G8 member in good standing.”