Goldman’s O’Neill to step down

Marion Dakers
THE ECONOMIST who first picked out the BRIC economies will retire from Goldman Sachs later this year.

Jim O’Neill, the chairman of Goldman Sachs’ asset management division, coined the term to refer to the four markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China, which he forecast would lead a shift in the global economy.

Earlier this year, the 55-year-old said that China should be removed from the BRIC umbrella, as its influential position as the world’s second biggest economy meant it had outgrown the other three nations.

He is an economist by training who joined Goldman Sachs in 1995 as a partner.

In 2010, he stepped back from his job as chief economist to take a broader role at the bank.

In an internal memo, Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein said: “Jim is an influential economist and thought leader, and is regarded as an expert in the world’s foreign exchange and bond markets.”

The memo did not say what O’Neill plans to do following his retirement.

Jim O’Neill, once described as the world’s first rock star economist, started on the road to financial fame at Bank of America, having completed a PhD in economics at the University of Surrey.

After spells at Marine Midland Bank and Swiss Bank, he joined Goldman Sachs in 1995. He rose to global economics, commodities and strategy research in 2001.

As well as coining the BRIC acronym the same year, following which he wrote a book and earned the nickname “Mr BRIC” across the banking world, he has built a reputation on his accurate economic calls. His forecast that the credit crunch of 2007/8 would blow over is a notable exception.

Born and raised in Manchester, O’Neill is a dedicated fan of Manchester United, going so far as to become a non-executive director in 2004. He joined the Red Knights during their attempts to buy out the Glazer family from the club in 2010.

He is leaving as his team sits at the top of the Premier League and the turbulent markets of the last five years have broken into a brief bull run – assuming that he’s called it right in his most recent missive to clients, entitled “Are Things That Good?”.