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Goldman Sachs Loses ‘BRICs’ Legend Jim O’ Neill

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Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) announced today that one of its  famous economists will be leaving the company later in 2013. Jim O’Neill will exit his position as chairman of the Goldman Sachs Asset Management; a position he was the first to hold after it was created for him in 2010.

Goldman Sachs Loses 'BRICs' Legend Jim O' Neill

One of the economist’s most enduring contributions was his characterization of the BRIC economies. O’Neill coined the term BRIC in a paper published in November 2001. His paper preceded the outsized growth in the economies of those countries, Brazil, Russia, India, and China, which continues in essence today.

O’Neill’s notoriety paralleled that of his most famous term, and much of his career was spent following the path of emerging markets as they became a force in the world economy. O’Neill’s knowledge of the workings of emerging markets was greater than almost any other analyst in the world.

O’Neill sent the notice of his resignation to his superiors a month ago, but it was not released to the public as Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) management wanted to wait until the company’s annual partners’ meeting. That meeting was held last week, allowing the company to announce the official departure today.

In later years as head of the Goldman Sachs Asset Management arm, the executive worked to restore the reputation of the company. O’Neill tried several different initiatives to change the culture at the bank, including the introduction of a compensation system that aligned the pay of company staff to their clients’ interests. None of his bigger changes were accepted across the investment bank.

A Financial Times article on O’Neill’s retirement asserted that his trouble at the Goldman Sachs Asset Management arm was one of the reasons that pressed him to leave the company. Jim O’Neill has been a partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS) for eighteen years. The bank is not expected to replace him in position of chairman. That position is instead expected to lapse, and the asset management arm will continue to be led by its current heads, Tim, O’Neil and Eric Lane.

According to the Financial Times piece, sources close to the matter have suggested that Mr. O’Neill is not looking to join another firm at the moment. At 55, O’Neill is retiring quite young for a Goldman partner, and an economist. However, there is plenty of time for him to decide if he wants to join another investment bank, or even start his own firm.

Just before his resignation was announced, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) published a report written by O’Neill entitled “Are Things That Good?” The report questioned the current optimist in the equities market, and questioned whether it was justified, given the current macroeconomic and domestic circumstances.

O’Neill will be remembered for his  contributions on the subject of emerging markets, and particularly his characterization of Brazil, Russia, India, and China as one of the most dynamic groups in the global economy.

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