Friday, November 12, 2010

G20 Revisited: ASK IT SAM!

As the G20 Summit closes, I wanted to return to something I posted about over the summer. Once again, we see that the G20 doesn't actually accomplish anything. It is perhaps a useful forum to focus the world's attention on global economic issues, but what is really important about the G20 is not what it does. What is important about the G20 is what it represents: The arrival of the emerging market countries!

If this observation is correct, however, then it's a shame that most people cannot name the members of the G20 (even most scholars of International Relations fail the test). Learning their names will give you a sense of the major players in international relations... and learning who's *not* in is also interesting (see what I said about Iran here).

So, I came up with a mnemonic device to help people remember:


The details are in the previous post. Briefly, the G7 comprises the major players of the last 3 decades of the 20th Century - you should definitely know them. BRIC stands for the 4 biggest emerging markets, you should know them too. EU? That's the seat on the G20 going to the European Union countries not already represented by the G7 (yeah, the EU gets separate seats for Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and then one more for good measure... also note that there are not actually 20 countries in the G20, only 19, with the 20th seat going to the EU).

That leaves 8 countries. They're the tough ones to remember, so I came up with this word, "MAKTISAS," where each letter stands for one of the remaining countries. The nice thing about it is that it also roughly orders the countries in terms of gross national product (GDP). Buuuut, as many of my friends have pointed out, MAKTISAS only works as a mnemonic device if you can actually remember the made up word, something that has proven to be difficult. Sooo, my good friend and co-author, Raj Desai, came up with an easier acronym to remember:


S=Saudi Arabia
K=Korea (South, duh!)


S=South Africa

So, there you have it:


The full list, in order of GDP (2010 US$ estimates from the International Monetary Fund), is thus:

United States ($14.6 trillion)
Rest of the EU* ($6.0 trillion)
China ($5.7 trillion)
Japan ($5.4 trillion)
Germany ($3.3 trillion)
France ($2.6 trillion)
United Kingdom ($2.3)
Italy ($2.0 trillion)
Brazil ($2.0 trillion)
Canada ($1.6 trillion)
Russia ($1.5 trillion)
India ($1.4 trillion)
Australia ($1.2 trillion)
Mexico ($1.0 trillion)
Korea ($986 billion)
Turkey ($729 billion)
Indonesia ($695 billion)
Saudi Arabia ($434 billion)
South Africa ($354 billion)
Argentina ($351 billion)

*Rest of the EU excludes Germany, France, United Kingdom, & Italy. If they are double-counted, then the total EU GDP is $16.1 trillion