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Dean Magid discusses BRICS

In global economy, uncertainty is the only certainty: Brandeis IBS dean discusses BRICS, global markets in special forum with students

Dean Bruce Magid

March 29, 2012

A look into a murky crystal ball raises many questions about the global geopolitical landscape and its effects on economies around the world, Brandeis International Business School (IBS) Dean Bruce Magid said at the third annual Dean’s Forum on March 23.

Because of all the uncertainty, it is an exciting time to be heading into the working world, he told students as he outlined some of the major issues that will shape their future and addressed audience comments about them.

Students now have more options because of all the global changes and upheaval, Magid said. At one time, the best opportunity was considered to be an analyst at a large company.

“One of the positive byproducts of the financial crisis is … that it’s liberated people into thinking, ‘let me be creative and go into a company that is trying to build new things,’ or ‘let me become a corporate sustainability officer,’ or ‘let me become a social entrepreneur.’ ”

As students think about their future, there are many issues they need to watch, such as what will happen in Europe in the wake of the bail out of Greece, Magid said.

Magid raised the question of whether what happened in South America in the 1970 and ’80s could happen now in Europe. In South America, the problem started in Bolivia, said Magid, who was there as an economist for Bank of America. Although the country looked good on paper, Magid said he heard a different story as he talked to the residents. Soon after, banks cut lines of credit while investors and individuals pulled their money out of not only Bolivia, but also surrounding countries.

“Is Greece a one-off or the first of many?” he asked students. “Is it going to be contagion or is it going to be dominos?”

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This question leads to a broader issue of whether there is too much debt in the world and what should be done to address it, Magid told students. Debt reduction will take time, and is now a global concern, but it is not clear how it should be dealt with.

Maybe the debt should be written off, or maybe everyone should spend less.

“Is that going to work, or do you have political strife? Look at what’s happening in Greece and Spain,” Magid said. “Or do you simply have very little growth and not invest in the future? Is that a long-term game plan?

Or could the debt be inflated away?

“Nobody seems to know the magic solution,” Magid concluded.

Another uncertainty is what will happen with the BRICS -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Each faces internal challenges that could affect their economic growth. With a slowdown in exports, their economies will need to rely more on internal consumption, and it is not clear how well they will be able to make the shift.

“If the BRICS aren’t the engine of growth, and Europe isn’t the engine of growth, and the United States is sketchy in terms of growth, where is the growth going to come from,” he asked. “Who wins over the next five to seven years?”

When asked whether students should look for jobs in which they could try to change large, older companies or instead join more forward looking firms, Magid urged them to evaluate the corporate culture of potential employers.

“Corporate culture is really an important indicator of the success of a company,” he said. “Don’t go into a company with a flawed culture and think you are going to fix it.”

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