Remember the BRICS Countries? Now Everyone's Talking About the "Fragile Five."

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Jan. 29 2014 12:23 PM

BRIC Breaker

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Against the wall.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The BRICS—a group of countries that originally included the rising economics Brazil, Russia, India, and China—began in a Goldman Sachs investment analysis and eventually was eventually formalized into a political alliance with the addition of a capital S for South Africa, despite never having made a whole lot of sense as a political or economic group in the first place.  

It’s hard to imagine the “fragile five”—the latest trendy designation in emerging markets, according to Landon Thomas of the New York Times—will be so eagerly embraced by its members. As identified by Morgan Stanley’s James K. Lord last summer, Turkey, Brazil, India, South Africa, and Indonesia are five countries whose currencies “will likely be held back by high inflation, large current account deficits, challenging capital flow prospects and potentially weak … growth.

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Most of the attention in the past week has been on Turkey, which just doubled its interest rates to attempt to protect its slumping currency amid domestic political turmoil and fears over falling demand from China and the U.S. reducing its monetary stimulus.

In case you were wondering, the economist who originally coined BRICs, Jim O’Neill, has lately been touting the MINTs, which optimistically includes Turkey for the T.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog.