I was at a lunch recently with about 10 people. One of the participants was an analyst from Portugal — smart guy, delightful accent.
The table was discussing the BRIC countries — what a tiresome acronym THAT has become — and our Portuguese pal mentioned the PIGS countries.
PIGS? What the heck is a PIGS?
It turns out that PIGS stands for Portugal, Italy, Greece & Spain — P.I.G.S.
Why so crude an acronym? They are all in, or on the verge of tumbling into, a recession. Their significance is that they are the soft white underbelly of Europe. While not as economically important as Germany or England or even France, they are still a substantial chunk of nations, consumption and output for Europe. Our dashing Portuguese analyst expects their slowdown to spread to the rest of Europe.
PIGS: Now you know.
UPDATE: July 9, 2008 11:09AM
I am aware of the dispute between whether Italy or Ireland is part of the PIGS. I am going to defer to the Economist magazine, which notes:
One danger is that fractures within the euro area will distract the ECB from staying on top of inflation. A particular worry is
what could be called the PIGS—Portugal, Italy, Greece
and Spain, Europe’s negative version of the fast-growing BRICs. The fear is that these countries may be in a hole they
cannot easily climb out of and that the ECB will be
pressed into running a looser monetary policy to save them.