Rant: Is MINT the New 'Twerk'?

A question for those casting their minds back over the year just gone: when was the first time you heard the word ‘twerk’? For myself, I’m not sure, although I became aware of my ignorance of its meaning with the media (and media-provoked) firestorm surrounding the performance of Miss Destiny Hope ‘Miley Ray’ Cyrus at the 2013 MTV Music Awards. This was an event hard to avoid and, quite suddenly, ‘twerk’ had become as one with the zeitgeist and part of quotidian existence, like the clock ticking or birds singing — just not so easy to ignore.

My confident prediction is that quite soon the word ‘MINT’ will become, if not another ‘twerk’, then a modern analogue of it for chattering business media types. Unlike ‘twerk’, MINT is not a neologism, of course, but a grouping acronym that stands for Mexico/Indonesia/Nigeria/Turkey. It was coined (the verb is for once apposite) by Jim O’Neill, an economist with a seeming gift for such things, for it was he who gave the world BRICS:  Brazil/Russia/India/China/South Africa, the last of these countries added as the final brick in the wall a few years after the original BRIC.

In both BRICS and MINT cases, O’Neill was suggesting new forces in the global economy with the ability to outperform the rest of the pack. BRIC/S is now an accepted aspect of the business-speak vocabulary and MINT will likely follow as O’Neill documents his theory in a series of programmes for BBC Radio 4.

There are very good reasons for thinking that the MINT countries might well prosper in the coming years, to do with geographical location, a large workforce with modest salary demands, resources, historical trading relationships and more. But it’s tempting to think that the MINT countries have in part been selected because their initials are amenable to a memorable acronym. You might as easily pluck from another name such as (yet another of O’Neill’s work) the Next Eleven and throw in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, the Philippines, South Korea or Vietnam. Or go to another such term, CIVETS, this time not by O’Neill but including Colombia and Egypt. All sorts of possibilities are made available: think of the power of the BICEPS, applaud the PIPES or cheer for the SPICE boys and girls. Or, if feeling cynical, you might condemn the SKIVErs.

But what all of these collectives share is surely a future of uncertainty despite the opportunities they harbour. Certainly, civil unrest and political corruption cast doubt on even near-term prosperity of many of the countries listed above. Also, turning back to the BRICS example, it’s important to note that even rapid growth is not a panacea. Look at the divisions in Brazil and Russia: money does not always flow down in a way that benefits all and governments don’t always spend their cash on platforms for more consistent, long-term prosperity.

O’Neill has reminded us that there is massive room for economic change all over the world and that the accepted world order is a fluid, dynamic affair. He might well become a regular face on TV spreading the word for countries that were too often written off in the past and he is certainly a gift to the media. Just don’t treat his best guesstimates as a reliable tip-sheet for emerging superpowers because, as the best economists know, predicting the future is a tricky business.


Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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