O pais do futuro?
April 7, 2011 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Lula's Brazil - "Compared with his predecessors, he had the imagination, born of social identification, to see that the Brazilian state could afford to be more generous to the least well-off, in ways that have made a substantial difference to their lives. But these concessions have come at no cost to the rich or comfortably-off, who in any absolute reckoning have done even better – far better – during these years. Does that really matter, it can be asked: isn't this just the definition of the most desirable of all economic outcomes, a Pareto optimum?" (via via)
posted by kliuless (16 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Let's wait to see what shape Brazil is in after the current cycle in resource demand comes to its inevitable end before building a monument to the guy. Their economy is pretty much the first derivative of china.
posted by JPD at 11:18 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Obviously Brazil has been a beneficiary of China's rise, but don't forget how big and diverse Brazil's economy is. It's not just soy and mining.
posted by Forktine at 11:25 AM on April 7, 2011

Excellent article - one of the best long-form pieces I've read in a while.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:41 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Perry Anderson is just a treasure. If you like the breadth and effortless analysis on display in this essay, allow me to recommend The New Old World, a collection of similar historical-political essays on postwar Europe from the last couple decades.
posted by RogerB at 11:42 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't think that is as true as you think it is. Look at the amount of outside investment coming into Brazil - nearly all of that is in the commodities businesses. Sure the services component has grown, but that's due a lot to all of the other money sloshing around.

This isn't to say that Brazil has not done an excellent job of managing the upcycle, but just that its too early to be canonizing Lula for his economic policies. You can't possibly know if he's been lucky or he's been good.
posted by JPD at 11:44 AM on April 7, 2011

Well, it's good that the wealth is being used to help lift up the poor, rather then simply going into the pockets of the already rich.
posted by delmoi at 12:00 PM on April 7, 2011

Let's wait to see what shape Brazil is in after the current cycle in resource demand comes to its inevitable end

I think I heard a Brazilian finance minister talk on BBC about how B. steel is cheaper than Chinese steel, and how their efficient economy is driving construction of a massive new port terminal. Brazil may be more than resources, perhaps.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:06 PM on April 7, 2011

Thatcher got lucky with north sea oil and Clinton got lucky with the tech bubble as well. So I think Lula deserves some credit.
posted by Grimgrin at 12:07 PM on April 7, 2011

Embraer shows that Brazil is head and shoulders above China in one of the most demanding markets in the world. This doesn't mean Lula had much to do with it - but the idea that Brazil's economy is "the first derivative of China's" at least has big exceptions.
posted by jet_silver at 1:05 PM on April 7, 2011

You can't possibly know if he's been lucky or he's been good.

Part of being good is being able to capitalize on favorable circumstances, which it seems like he's done so far, to a pretty good extent. If he'd been utterly corrupt and incompetent, the opportunity could have gone wholly wasted.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:34 PM on April 7, 2011

Brazil's steel is cheaper then China's - that's the whole point if it weren't then China wouldn't buy it. - the demand for steel is what matters, not cost. And the massive new port is to export ore and steel to China

Embraer is tiny in the grand scheme of things - they had 6 bil in revs, while Vale had 45 bil, and Petrobras had 138 billion. Not to mention a lot of Embraer's revenues are marking up engines and avionics (that actual hugh return/high profit parts of civ aviation). I mean six bil in revenues is pretty small - its the size in terms of revenues and profits as Alliant Techsystems.

And yes Thatcher got lucky with north sea oil, and yes Clinton and I would have said the exact thing about something canonizing them in 1999 or 1985.
posted by JPD at 1:48 PM on April 7, 2011

JPD: My point was that Lula at least used his good luck to try and improve the lot of the lower classes. Thatcher and Clinton spent their time actively screwing 'em over while using the booming economy as a cover, and that Lula should get some credit for his actions, irrespective of the economic good fortune he experienced.
posted by Grimgrin at 2:19 PM on April 7, 2011

Great read, has helped me to understand why so many of Brazilian friends hate Lula and now Dilma so much.
posted by Joe Chip at 5:27 PM on April 7, 2011

Great read, has helped me to understand why so many of Brazilian friends hate Lula and now Dilma so much.

From the article: Rarer still – indeed, virtually unheard of – is for such popularity to reflect, not appeasement or moderation, but a radicalisation in government. Today, there is only one ruler in the world who can claim this achievement, the former worker who in January stepped down as president of Brazil, enjoying the approval of 80 per cent of its citizens. By any criterion, Luiz Inácio da Silva is the most successful politician of his time. (emphasis mine)

I'm curious, what puts your friends in the other 20%?
posted by dubold at 11:06 PM on April 7, 2011

Dubold -- one of my Brazilian friends, who I must say is a child of privilege who has never wanted for money, gave me a lengthy earbashing about Lula and his movement which a) stressed the corruption and b) blamed him for giving sops to the poor while doing nothing to reform Brazil's pretty broken public education system. As far as I could make out, she saw the government benefits provided to the poor as largely wasted and symbolic when that money could have been deployed improving primary schooling.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:58 PM on April 8, 2011

Let's not forget that Brazil saw the future of an addiction to petroleum and went whole hog into alcohol as fuel for motor vehicles over twenty years ago. All the while, battling the fallout from years of stupendous currency devaluations, military dictatorship and all the problems a society could possibly suffer under such conditions. And still find time to go collectively insane for a few days once a year during Carnaval.
All this before Lula. I admire the man, don't get me wrong, since he was certainly astute enough and determined enough to articulate a vision and get enough people on board to act on it.
I'll admit, by the way, to a soft spot in my heart for Brazil and Brazilians, since I spent a few years there as a child and saw the best and the worst. Needless to say, I cheer them on.
posted by girdyerloins at 6:44 PM on April 8, 2011

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