As countries industrialize and the average households becoming wealthier, it makes sense that households would begin spending less and less of their income on food and drink, and more on less necessary goods and luxury goods. Below is a breakdown of the percentages of total household spending on food. Notice that the light blue is food and drink, while the dark blue is alcohol and tobacco- thus the light blue is the important figure here. The United States has some of the lowest spending at roughly 7%, while many other countries still average near 50%. It is incredible to think that in Cameroon, households usually only have 53% of their income to spend on all other goods.
BRICS, the coalition of developing countries made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, is starting its own development bank to rival the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
There are questions to how successful this new alliance can be, however, for there are “serious questions about whether the member countries have enough in common and enough shared goals to function effectively as a counterweight to the West.” Many believe that these nations are not similar enough, and that, (perhaps like the U.N. Security Counsel), there will often be diverging interests among them.
Why do the BRICS countries feel the need to do this? For a long time, a portion of developing nations have felt resentful of the western-influenced World Bank and IMF. Latin America nations especially have attempted to free themselves from entangling agreements with these institutions, weary from the debt they were once caught up in during the 1970’s and 80’s. Even Argentina, once a poster child for World Bank loans, has decided that it would rather not enter into the same stipulated loan agreements, agreements like Jamaica got caught up in.
The same is true in some nations of Africa, though resent is notably less common. Though in some areas of the continent the World Bank is seen as a western, financially entrapping force, many governments and citizens understand the World Bank’s ultimate goals. BRICS nations lack this reputation on the continent. “France and the United States still have the highest rate of foreign investment in Africa. Despite China’s reputation for heavy investment in Africa, Malaysia has actually invested $2 billion more in Africa than China has.”
In my opinion, more nations focusing on development is by no means a bad thing. The BRICS may very possibly build up successful institutions. And even if they steal some of the Bretton Woods thunder, to have emerging developing nations create policies that help the least developed nations can be world-changing. Best possible scenario, the BRICS institutions eventually merge with the World Bank to create a more globally aware and unbiased organization. If all nations can keep their detrimental individual interests in check, global poverty could be seriously combatted. Naturally, this is idealistic. But still possible.