In This Review

Crafting Coalitions for Reform: Business Preferences, Political Institutions, and Neoliberal Reform in Brazil
Crafting Coalitions for Reform: Business Preferences, Political Institutions, and Neoliberal Reform in Brazil
By Peter R. Kingstone
Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999, 376 pp

In a highly original book, Kingstone examines Brazilian industry's support for the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s, arguing that this turnaround was shaped less by competitiveness than by public policy and political credibility. Based on hundreds of interviews with business executives, the book systematically analyzes different sectors -- from pulp and paper to auto parts to machine tools -- and examines the shifting opinions within industry lobbying associations. Kingstone sees four factors at work: the negative impact of protectionism, especially import-substitution and the coincident chronic fiscal crisis; the ability of big business to prosper in the face of market liberalization and free trade; the options to adjust within the market; and the government's effectiveness in delivering on its promises, whether through tax cuts, export credits, or fiscal reform. Despite the financial cost, businesses remained surprisingly open to negotiation, something President Cardoso evidently learned during his repeated tactical maneuvers. In the end, he helped achieve a more open economy with the support of those sectors that had previously sought protection from international trade. Thanks to Brazil's fragmented and chaotic politics, Kingstone concludes, big business was forced to become nimble and competitive. An important contribution to the study of Brazil's struggle for reform.