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Why the rise of Brazil, India and China (and the relative decline of the U.S.) isn't bad news

Illustration by Carl Wiens for TIME

Illustration of the United States.

Only two of the world's 15 biggest economies are expected to grow in 2009: China's and India's. Brazil's government still thinks it can eke out positive growth for the year too, although outside forecasters don't quite buy it. Let's call these three countries the BICs. BRIC — for Brazil, Russia, India, China — is the better-known acronym, coined in 2001 by Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill as shorthand for the globe's emerging economic giants. In mid-June, leaders of the four BRICs even held their first summit meeting. But Russia, a resource-rich land with an otherwise feeble economy and a shrinking...

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