Brazil as an Economic Superpower? Understanding Brazil's Changing Role in the Global Economy

In This Review

Brazil as an Economic Superpower? Understanding Brazil's Changing Role in the Global Economy
Edited by Lael Brainard and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz
Brookings Institution Press, 2009
256 pp. $52.95
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In this timely volume, Brainard (recently appointed to the senior international position at the U.S. Treasury) and Martinez-Diaz (a scholar at the Brookings Institution) concede that the Brazilian state's past fostering of national enterprises laid the foundation for the success of the country's global firms today -- in petrochemicals, aerospace, biofuels, and export-oriented agriculture. Rather than posit statism and capitalism as exclusionary opposites, the Brazilian experience suggests a logical and gradual sequencing between the two models of development. The book also identifies two main challenges for Brazil: the need to transfer its natural-resource wealth into investments in infrastructure, education, and technology, and the need to overcome its deep-seated fear of exposure to international markets. In a particularly strong chapter, the Brazilian trade expert Pedro da Motta Veiga sharply criticizes President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for reviving an ideologically driven policy seeking trade with less developed markets -- which has yielded scant economic results -- and for his government's distaste for negotiating high-quality international business standards. This defensive, ambiguous posture toward trade has, so far, inhibited Brazil from leveraging its growing economic weight to set agendas in global economic forums.

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