Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How well has Brazil done during the Workers' Party administration?

First, let me be absolutely clear. I do in general favor the current administration in Brazil, as much as other left of center governments in South America. But I do understand some of the critiques from the left (not the right wing conservatives that are against social spending and more redistribution of income). A good example of the limits to the current experience in the region are provided by the Brazilian case.

Recently a post (in Portuguese; full disclosure one of the authors is a friend) went viral in Brazil. It showed how much Brazil has grown during Lula/Dilma, from the Workers' Party (PT, in Portuguese) compared to the rest of the world, and advanced economies, and the same exercise done for the Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC), from the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB in Portuguese) period.

Clearly, the FHC period (1995-2002) is worse than the Lula/Dilma period (2003-2014), in which the last year is an estimate (all data, as in the viral post, from the IMF's World Economic Outlook). In the Workers' Party period Brazil was growing faster and keeping pace with the rest of the world, and catching up, growing faster than advanced economies.

However, as noted in this blog several times (Dean Baker has been one of the few others that noted this in the US; part of debunking the BRICS myth) Brazil has not grown really that fast. Instead of comparing with advanced economies and the rest of the world, the picture changes a bit if one does it with developing countries, as shown below.
Note that while it is true, as it should be, that Brazil catches up with the advanced economies during the Lula/Dilma period and not so during the FHC one, it is also the case that the Brazilian performance when compared to developing countries is far from stellar. In that sense, there is a certain frustration about the lost possibilities. Mind you, conservative views that Brazil needs to return to more rigid fiscal surpluses, and tighter inflation targeting (presumably with an independent central bank, and higher rates of interest) are NOT the solution. But that is the topic of another post, I guess.

PS: I should note that there is also a frustration on part of the left in the US with Obama, and the notion that an opportunity was lost. In that respect, there is a similarity between left of center critics of the Workers' Party and the US counterparts.

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