JIM O'NEILL, the Goldman Sachs economist who foresaw the growth of emerging markets, is retiring from the Wall Street bank later this year. The announcement came as a surprise and no mention was made of his future plans.
Mr O'Neill, 55, is best known for coining the term BRIC in 2001 to describe how the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China would challenge the West's economic dominance.
It was a foresight that the Goldman chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, and the president, Gary Cohn, described as a "revolutionary economic trend".
"Jim's BRIC thesis has challenged conventional thinking about emerging markets and, as a result, has had a significant economic and social impact," they said.
The son of a postman, Mr O'Neill grew up in Gatley in Manchester before studying geography and economics at Sheffield University. After brief stints at Swiss Bank and Bank of America, he joined Goldman in 1995 as a partner. There, he rose to the top, becoming its chief economist before being made chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) three years ago - a role created specifically for him.
A die-hard Manchester United fan, he tried to put together a consortium of fellow supporters to take over the club in 2010.
Last year, he was talked about as a potential candidate to take over as governor of the Bank of England.
More recently, Mr O'Neill has emerged as an optimist about the economic outlook, writing last month about the "reasons for the world economy to be cheerful in 2013".
He is not expected to be replaced as chairman of the investment bank's asset management arm, which will continue to be led by the co-heads Tim O'Neil and Eric Lane.