Economic Influence on Democracy in Brazil

Brazil is one of the top emerging markets in the world and its wealth relies on exporting many natural resources. Recently, the demand for these natural resources has declined and Brazil’s economy will fall if measures are not taken to expand and improve economic growth.

In Ruchir Sharma’s article, “Bearish on Brazil”, he compares China and Brazil’s methods of growth. China also has a large market however it took a different approach in growing its economy than Brazil utilized. China was very open to possibilities of global trade, resulting in low export prices as well as low value of the yuan. Brazil took a cautious approach with their economy and focused on the protection of their citizens rather than expanding productivity and growth. As a result, prices of goods in Brazil are extremely high and expansion is very slow.

Brazil has the ability to distribute wealth more equally among citizens and spend more on educational systems. Brazilian schools have the lowest attendance rate of any middle-income country. However, Brazil is corrupt and instead large amounts of money are spent on things such as the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, both of which have lead to protests. In the article “Brazil’s Ebbing Tide”, written by Matthew Taylor he justifies the protesters attitudes. He said, “In sum, the protests, disgust with corruption, and apprehension about the World Cup that have dominated Brazilian media coverage for so much of the past year are in many ways a reflection of the upper-middle class malaise,” (Taylor 62).

Taylor’s article does not mention the additional costs now being spent on the Olympics. In the article attached at the end, Stephen Wade discusses the spending of the World Cup in addition to Olympic games and the issues it has caused regarding President Dilma Rousseff’s popularity. He also touches upon the very current Petrobas scandal that adds to President Rousseff’s dropping in popularity.

As mentioned previously, economic growth in Brazil has given it the opportunity to practice a democracy. The corruption the country is currently facing tampers with citizen’s rights and until that changes the economy will continue to fall and the President will lose support. The textbook written by Kesselman, Krieger, and Joseph sums up what measures need to be taken to solve Brazil’s problems. They state, “Policy-makers must find better ways of adjusting policy to the needs of a larger economy and a society that demands decreasing levels of poverty and inequality,” (KKJ 368).

2 thoughts on “Economic Influence on Democracy in Brazil

  1. I found this to be a very interesting topic, considering the talk given by Professor Christopher Coyne on Monday (February 23rd), had many parallels to this issue. After just hearing Coyne speak on the issues with many economies in the world, mostly democratic ones, I find that the issue of Brazil has a lot of parallels to other democratic nations that have attempted to scale the steep slope of improving a nations economy under democracy. Specifically, I want to look at how Brazil, has parallels with countries like the U.S, and how those nations interact when faced with development issues.

    Coyne brought up how the trade barriers the U.S. has in place, prevent African nations from selling their agricultural products on a global scale. This is to prevent undercutting of U.S. prices, because having cheaper African produce on the market would drive prices down. So the U.S., and many other democratic nations,like France, refuse to purchase African produce. The same is true for Brazil, but their trade problems are self inflicted. This is due to the fact that Brazil was more focused on “helping their people” than engaging in global trade. However, even though the Brazilian government has put in place several welfare programs in an attempt to “bridge the gap”, they have certainly made it clear that their focus remains with the upper class. This brings me to another point that Coyne brought up in his talk on Monday that can be applied to the situation in Brazil.

    Coyne addressed the issue of voting in America, and why our system is so flawed. This is because the people we vote in to power, normally don’t fully adhere to what the electorate wants them to accomplish. The same could be said for the current leaders of Brazil. Although Brazil scores a two on the Freedom House, “Freedom in the World” scale. Brazil is still, like you brought up in the above summary, very slanted toward the upper class. I found that the amount of tax payer money being spent on events like The World Cup, and specifically the 2016 Summer Olympics is an estimated “16.6 Billion USD” in public money. However, in the article I mention below the author Erin Sheridan mentions that “Much profit received does not go back to the public, is goes to shareholders and investors” (Sheridan). This means that “public funding is sacrificed” to host these events, not counting the tax increases that are coupled with these events, only to receive very miniscule returns on their tax payer money (Sheridan). This proves that despite being “[met with] protest” from the people of the nation, and despite Freedom House’ analysis, Brazil is still very slanted in the way they deal with the wage gap in their country.

    another interesting article- totals rising expected to increase

  2. I agree, although Brazil has the potential to become a democracy they must first fix their government. The Brazilian government is too corrupt and the citizens don’t take them seriously. How does the government have enough money to build infrastructure for the World Cup and the upcoming Olympics but not have any for public health care, education and other basic infrastructure? Yes, although Lula did start a welfare program, Bolsa Familia, for the lower class and created jobs for people by building stadiums for the World Cup, but those do not benefit the entire country. There is still an extreme divide between the upper class and the lower class, and the middle class is basically nonexistent. The Brazilian government needs to get their priorities in order and listen to their people because they are not going to be able to move forward without fixing the relationship between the government and their citizens.

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