Ex-Goldman banker Jim O’Neill given doctorate by City University London

Jim O’Neill, the economist who coined the term BRICs – an acronym for the fast-growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China – has been awarded an honorary degree by City University London.

O’Neill received a Doctorate of Science for his “distinguished contribution to global banking and finance” in a ceremony at London’s Barbican Centre.

Ex-Goldman banker Jim O’Neill given doctorate by City University London
Ex-Goldman banker Jim O’Neill given doctorate by City University London

The former Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management forecast the dramatic growth of the BRIC nations in 2001.  The term he invented has since shaped how investors view emerging markets and come to symbolise the shift in power away from developed Western economies.

Speaking to graduates of City University London’s Cass Business School, O’Neill said:  “It is with great pleasure and huge honour that I accept this honorary degree for my contribution to global banking and finance.”

He went on to challenge critics who “bemoan the contribution of the City to British life”, saying:  “From my experience, the City is one of our truly great unique advantages, and its ability to be at the centre of the ever changing world of economics and finance is an asset that this country should be proud of.

“I have confidence that the City will adjust and adapt to whatever challenges comes its way including those of occasional populist political figures who don’t realise its huge contribution to our nation.”

Centenary Professor of Strategy at Cass Business School, Charles Baden-Fuller, said:  “Jim has been one of the world’s most influential economists, having spent almost two decades at the top of Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, where he achieved global renown for his eloquent speeches, his provocative statements and his prescient economic predictions.”

Professor Paul Curran, Vice-Chancellor of City University London, added:  “It is a privilege to present Jim with an honorary degree in recognition of his distinguished contribution to global banking and finance, his connections with City University London and his capacity to act as a role model for our students.”

Before stepping down in April last year, O’Neill was Chairman of Goldman’s Asset Management division.  Prior to that, he spent nine-years as Goldman’s Chief Economist.

The son of a postman, he grew up in Manchester, where he studied at the local comprehensive.  From school, he went to the University of Sheffield, where he excelled at economics.

After studying for a doctorate at the University of Surrey, Jim worked in a series of City banks before being appointed as Chief Currency Economist and Co-Head of Economics Research at Goldman in 1995.