Brazil's Economic Slowdown Results from Policy Decisions

A new research paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research examines the causes of Brazil’s recent economic slowdown and finds that policy choices rather than external factors have been the most important cause. The paper shows that the sharp slowdown that Brazil has experienced since 2011 is overwhelmingly the result of a significant decline in domestic demand that resulted from policy choices made by the government. It concludes that this decision to slow the economy was not necessary as there was no external constraint, such as a balance-of-payments problem, that warranted it.

“There have been enormous economic and social gains since the Workers' Party took office in 2003, in terms of reducing poverty (by 55 percent) and extreme poverty (by 65 percent), increasing employment, income growth, and some reduction in inequality,” CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said. “However, these gains are being eroded and are seriously threatened if the government continues on its current path.”

The paper, “Aggregate Demand and the Slowdown of Brazilian Economic Growth from 2011-2014,” by CEPR Senior Research Associate Franklin Serrano and economist Ricardo Summa, looks in detail at the sharp slowdown in the Brazilian economy for the years 2011-2014, in which economic growth averaged only 2.1 percent annually, as compared with 4.4 percent in the 2004-2010 period. The authors argue that the slowdown overwhelmingly results from a sharp decline in domestic demand led by government policy, rather than from a fall in exports or from any change in external financial conditions.

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