The Age of Magic Money
Can Endless Spending Prevent Economic Calamity?
Six decades ago, long before the Brazilian Senate’s August 2016 vote to impeach President Dilma Rousseff and remove her from office, one of the most beloved leaders in the country’s history was besieged by scandals of his own. President Getúlio Vargas, a stocky, gravelly voiced gaucho from Brazil’s deep south, had granted new rights, including paid vacation, to a generation of workers in the 1930s and 1940s. But after Vargas returned to power in 1951, one of his top aides was charged with murder, and Vargas himself faced allegations that the state-run Bank of Brazil had granted sweetheart loans to a pro-government journalist. “I feel I am standing in a sea of mud,” Vargas lamented. After a late-night cabinet meeting on August 24, 1954, failed to solve the crisis, and with numerous generals demanding his resignation, Vargas withdrew to his bedroom, grabbed a Colt pistol, and shot himself through the