The List

More Than BRICS in the Wall

What do all those acronyms stand for?

When Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill named the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China "BRICs" in 2001, he didn't realize he was creating a major new geopolitical term, one that would even be turned into a formal alliance by the countries themselves. (They capitalized the "S" when South Africa joined in 2010.) He also probably didn't realize he was creating a new cottage industry of acronyms. Here's a guide to today's post-BRIC alphabet soup of global economics.

BASIC

Stands for: Brazil, South Africa, India, China

Created by: The countries themselves

Why: The BASIC group emerged at the 2009 Copenhagen climate-change conference to present a counterproposal putting more obligations on rich countries to cut carbon emissions. Cooperation continued into subsequent rounds of climate talks in Mexico and South Africa.

MIKT

Stands for: Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey

Created by: Jim O'Neill

Why: O'Neill didn't rest on his laurels following the hugely successful BRICs branding. In early 2011, he unveiled MIKT, arguing that the term "emerging markets" to describe these countries was simply no longer useful. It hasn't stuck quite as well.

 

NORCs

Stands for: Northern rim countries -- Canada, Russia, Scandinavia, and the northern United States

Created by: University of California/Los Angeles geographer Laurence C. Smith

Why: Smith believes access to shipping lanes opened up by the melting of Arctic ice, combined with abundant oil and natural gas resources, will make the Arctic countries the pivotal powers of the late 21st century.

PIGS

Stands for: Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain

Why: It's not clear who coined the unflattering nickname, which groups the worst-performing European economies, but it's become widespread during the euro crisis and is sometimes spelled "PIIGS" to include Ireland.

TIMBI

Stands for: Turkey, India, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia

Created by: George Mason University professor Jack Goldstone

Why: Goldstone argued in a 2011 ForeignPolicy.com article that economic growth in Russia and China would be hampered by shrinking working-aged populations, so India and Brazil should more accurately be placed with countries that boast growing economies and populations.

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