'MINT': The New Drivers of Prosperity
Surely, the point is not to promote unbridled pessimism or to expose the futility of acronym making. We may start to accept that love of Hedge funds is a dangerous thing, and unless a country can bully them by being the biggest hedge fund of them all (as China apparently is trying to do), being included in one of these acronyms is possibly the surest sign of a coming disorder, as India is experiencing. From recent history, we know that such tough love makes a country less democratic, as its middle classes are sold the vision of being the next big power and seek to undermine their less fortunate co-citizens and destroy their environment in a mad rush to realise that dream. But this is a discussion for another day. The point here is to argue that if we accept the theory that prosperity in new geographies will drive the world economy, it may be sensible to start recognising the drift between the middle classes and other, and see the cities, rather than countries, as drivers of prosperity.
For example, as India got fully integrated in the acronym world, the biggest change in its economy came through urbanisation: Mumbai contributes 12% of India's GDP, 25% of its industrial output, 70% of its maritime trade and 70% of the country's capital transactions, closely followed by Delhi, with another 10% of India's GDP. If the middle classes are to drive this prosperity, it may be appropriate to turn the focus on city economies now than the countries, because the cities are run very differently from the countries: While countries are chosen based on their economic size, many city economies enjoy a large hinterland which they effectively serve, regardless of the national boundaries. The recent rebound in the Dubai economy due to the Arab spring is one example, but its rise in the first place was based on its geographic location.
Agreed, most cities are poorly governed, but this is more because they don't get appropriate leverage in the national policy making, which tends to see things in national terms rather than city economies. However, this is changing: The focus on financial markets are turning on to the Cities, and investors are increasingly looking at cities rather than countries (even in the developed world, as the divergence between London and the rest of the UK, for example). It is therefore perhaps more appropriate to talk about the cities than countries, when we try to identify the drivers of prosperity and coin these acronyms.