Ex-Goldman Sachs Banker Jim O’Neill, who coined term BRIC, becomes Treasury Minister

The man who coined the term BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) to describe the world’s major emerging markets that will one day dominate the global economy, ex-Goldman Sachs boss Jim O’Neill, is to take on a junior ministerial role as Commercial Secretary to the Treasury. He will also be made a Conservative life peer.

The move, from high-flying City finance, as chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, to working under the Chancellor George Osborne, will have Dr. O’Neill focusing on boosting infrastructure and improving competition policy.

According to a statement by Mr. Osborne, Dr. O’Neill will also be involved in devolving more powers to British cities and creating more growth in northern England to counterbalance the dominance of London.

Jim O'Neill

Twelve years after coining the term, Mr. O’Neill said the BRICs had exceeded all expectations.

Last year, Mr. O’Neill was named chair of a committee by Prime Minister David Cameron to review antibiotic resistance and suggest ways to combat the growing problem. Today he reported that governments worldwide need to invest billions to fight superbugs.

In October 2014, he chaired the Cities Growth Commission in Britain. Its conclusions are said to have influenced Mr. Osborne’s thinking on devolution of powers to cities.


Mr. O’Neil says he does not commit to a specific financial or political ideology. He is known for his ‘pragmatic, long-term’ vision of currency markets.

From humble beginnings…

The son of a postman, Mr. O’Neill was born and raised in Gatley, a suburban area of Stockport, Greater Manchester. He attended Burnage Comprehensive and studied economics at Sheffield University. In 1982, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Surrey.

Jim O'Neill City University

In 2014, Jim O’Neill was given an Award of Doctor of Science honoris causa by City University London. In the same year, he was made Honorary Professor of Economics at The University of Manchester.

Since childhood he has been an avid fan of Manchester United F.C. and served as a non-executive director from 2004 to 2005, before it was returned to private ownership.

A group of wealthy Manchester United fans – the Red Knights – believed to include Mr. O’Neill, confirmed interest in 2010 in a possible takeover of the club.

Mr. O’Neill coined the term ‘BRIC’ in a paper written for Goldman Sachs’ “Global Economic Paper” series in 2001 entitled The World Needs Better Economic BRICs.”

Video – The Complex and Changing World Economy

This is a video of a lecture given by Dr. O’Neil at the University of Manchester last year.