The most talked-about global economic trend in recent years has been “the rise of the rest,” with Brazil, Russia, India, and China leading the charge. But international economic convergence is a myth. Few countries can sustain unusually fast growth for a decade, and even fewer, for more than that. Now that the boom years are over, the BRICs are crumbling; the international order will change less than expected.
Under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil has finally embraced modern capitalism and broken decisively with a sclerotic old economic model. The country's ambitious reforms are encouraging private investment and loosening state control. Even the 1999 currency crisis eventually ended smoothly. But the world should hold its applause until Cardoso can prove that his reforms will last. If not, his efforts will merely join Brazil's dreary list of false starts and missteps.
Brazil's rapid economic growth has transformed the country into a new global heavyweight, but Brazil must not let an overly ambitious foreign policy agenda distract it from lingering domestic challenges.