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November 2018 - Can Bolsonaro Fix Brazil's Broken Economy?

The Brief

November 12, 2018

Can Bolsonaro Fix Brazil's Broken Economy?

Voters in Brazil recently elected as the nation's next president the hard-right politician, Jair Bolsonaro, whose credentials and proposals seem short of the task of addressing its severe macroeconomic difficulties. School experts debated the driving causes for Bolsonaro's win and the future of Latin America's largest economy.

Riordan Roett Chair in Latin American Studies Monica de Bolle wrote in Latin America Advisor that "Unlike any other candidate, Bolsonaro was able to personify the anger and sheer indignation with a corrupt establishment and weak institutions that have become highly politicized," which became the deciding factor for a majority of voters. Read more

Associate Professor of International Economics Filipe Campante noted in Bloomberg that Bolsonaro lacks the political coalitions to address Brazil's economic problems and instead "the new government is likely to focus on the relatively cheap agenda of satisfying specific constituencies, such as social conservatives and rural interests." Read more

At a panel discussion, "Walking Blindfolded into the Abyss? Priorities for Brazil's New President," Director Emeritus of Latin American Studies Riordan Roett said of Brazil's economic challenges, "Unless they deal with issues that have been overlooked for decades, if not centuries, Brazil will remain exactly where it is" at the low-end of competitiveness rankings. View more

Monica de Bolle also wrote in the New York Times that although austerity could hurt Brazil's growth in the short term, "The only way to reduce the widening gap between revenues and expenditures is by paying the price of a weaker economy now to guarantee the return of stability and growth later." Read more

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