Latin America’s largest economy Brazil has gone from boom to bust in the past decade. As one of the BRICS economies it was identified as having huge growth potential, yet it is now struggling with a mounting debt burden and severe economic and political challenges.
This book traces the political economy of Brazil from state formation and decolonization to unprecedented postwar growth, the structural reforms of the 1990s and the recent democratic rebuilding under the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Worker’s Party) and the subsequent debacle.
Juan Grigera considers the key role of primary commodities, like coffee, the peculiarities of Brazil’s finance sector – one dominated by private banks – and the origins and repercussions of the debt crisis. He also examines issues such as Brazil’s regional impact, the nature of foreign investment (including its multi-latinas MNCs), Amazonian environmental issues, and the pivotal role of corruption (notably the “car wash” scandal) in the deep crisis of recent years. The author also highlights the ongoing history of social struggles and unionism, gender and racial inequalities and regional disparities that have given rise to many strong social movements including the MST landless movement, in addition to considering the significance of the “new middle class” and Brazil’s unusually large state.
Concluding with a view of the current turmoil, The Brazilian Economy further interrogates the idea and history of “interpreting Brazil” and the diagnoses offered by different streams of Latin American economic thought.
Juan Grigera is Lecturer in the Political Economy of Inclusive Development at King's College London.