In a 2008 interview, then Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva offered me his formula for success: “I allow the rich to earn money with their investments and I allow the poor to participate in that economic growth.”
Lula’s capitalist-socialist policies, and soaring commodities prices, led Brazil to an astonishing boom in the 2000s. By 2010, as Lula was leaving office, the country was the world’s sixth-largest economy, and 40 million people were added to its middle class.
It was a confident global player.
Now it’s a foundering cautionary tale.
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Brazil is suddenly mired in what may be its worst recession since the 1930s. It’s also wrestling with gargantuan corruption scandals, including a $3 billion outrage at the state-run oil company, Petrobras. Meanwhile, Lula’s hand-picked successor, President Dilma Rousseff, may face impeachment.
As a result, when Miami realtor Fabiana Pimenta visits her native Brazil today, she finds a lot more bust than boom: “I see a lot of worry on people’s faces.”
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