By Jaylan Boyle, Senior Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil has often been accused of being a country eternally on the rise, without ever reaching the level of economic and political performance that it is capable of. Recent events for the country, such as the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics of 2016 have many wondering speculating if Brazil’s time has finally arrived.
Underlining the national atmosphere of confidence in Brazil’s future, the government has recently announced the completion of a study which representatives say conservatively project the Brazilian economy into fifth place worldwide by the year 2026. In the intervening 17 years Brazil is expected to eclipse such traditionally strong economies as France, Britain and Italy. Brazil’s fifth ranking has been extrapolated as translating to a gross domestic product of US$5.721 trillion.
Finance Minister Guido Mantega, speaking to an assembled media audience in London, revealed that the expected growth in Brazil’s economy is based on what he considers a worst case scenario.
“If we took the World Bank figures, we would already be in fifth place in 2014,” he said. “We were more modest and took statistics that put us there in 2026, when China will already be the number one world economy.”
The figures were produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a department of The Economist magazine, who according to their own website are the ‘world’s foremost provider of country, industry and management analysis’. The department was founded in 1946 when a director of intelligence was appointed to the magazine, and now has offices in 40 countries worldwide.
Brazil has certainly been turning heads in the investment community in recent times, with the success of government interest and debt policies as well as the country’s strong performance in emerging from the recent global financial crisis earlier than most. The fact that capital is returning to Brazil stands as a marked contrast to sentiment expressed by international commentators when President Lula’s Worker’s Party first took office; investment dollars poured out of the country as speculators feared yet another socialist government was taking hold in the South American continent.
President Lula sees this as vindication of the policies he and his colleagues have pursued since coming to power, at what would seem to be the twilight of his career in Brazil’s top job. After two terms in power, by constitutional law he cannot seek a consecutive third, however after the 2010 election he is free to stand for the job again.
“From the first moment of my government, we worked to prove that it was possible to combine economic growth with redistribution of wealth”, he said at the Invest In Brazil seminar hosted by the Financial Times in London recently, citing the success of his Bolsa Familia programme, a welfare initiative that is credited with helping more than 11 million families beat poverty.
“Some people said in Brazil, ‘Why are you investing in the poor? You could build bridges, roads or viaducts,'” he said, adding; “I’d like to build bridges, viaducts and roads. But the bridge can wait a month, the road can wait two months. Any investment can wait. People who are hungry can’t wait.”