Remember when Chris Rock said "you know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, [and] the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese"? Well, here's some more surprising role reversal: a group of emerging market countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, or BRICS for short - is meeting in Washington next week to discuss ways they can help Europe.
That's right: a group of countries with developing economies may have to help bail out the developed world. That's some pretty serious role reversal. And based on how much money the BRICS countries have compared to the European countries in question, it seems especially odd. As Salon.com points out, the average per-capita GDP (basically, the amount of money a country has, divided by its number of citizens) of the at-risk European countries is $30,571. In the BRICS countries who are meeting to discuss helping Europe, that average works out to $9686.
Of course it's not all about GDP, it's also about debt. In other words, it's not what you own but what you owe - and China, for one, owns a massive amount of foreign debt, while many European countries are struggling under the weight of their own debt loads.
In addition, the emerging economies of the BRICS nations are growing faster than the major industrialized nations, meaning they're in a position to buy into the European market to help improve the economic situation there. With the exception of China, these countries are newer democracies. As Alex Agostini of Brazilian risk analysis firm Austin Rating put it, "everyone has to be involved in looking for solutions because the economy is globalized and the crisis has a negative effect in all countries."
If the BRICS countries go ahead with the plan, Agostini added, it "could help to temporarily reduce the moment of volatility but it won't resolve the problem." One thing it would do is prove the importance of the BRICS economies on the world stage, as many established roles are starting to shift.