The economy of expression

You’ve probably heard of the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China, the fast-growing economies leaving the traditional economic superpowers for dead. It’s a neat little acronym (which handily lends itself to all manner of punning headlines).

It was coined by people at Goldman Sachs, and it caught on pretty quick. Now they’ve come up with a new label for the countries hot on their heels: the Next 20.

I first heard it at The Economist’s grandly titled Emerging Markets Summit in London. And in one discussion, The Economist’s Daniel Franklin was fairly scathing about Goldman’s naming efforts. Next 20, he thought, really wasn’t in the same league as the BRICs.

It’s interesting that even in such a supposedly highbrow world as economics, a memorable moniker can make the difference between whether your idea takes hold or not. And it’s an area with some evocative language: crashes and crunches, even a Great Depression.

Words mean numbers, we often say, when we’re trying to convince people of the value of our work. Numbers need words too, it seems, to wheedle their way into our heads and tell a good story.


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on Nov 05, 2012

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