The Political Economy of an Emerging Power: In Search of the Brazil Dream, by Lourdes Casanova

EMI Academic Director Lourdes Casanova launches a new book about the socio-political structure of Brazil.

by Sukriti Jain, EMI Research Assistant

The Political Economy of an Emerging Power: In Search of the Brazil Dream, by Lourdes Casanova

The Political Economy of an Emerging Power: In Search of the Brazil Dream- Insights by Professor Lourdes S. Casanova and Humberto Luiz Ribeiro

Book presentation organized by Emerging Markets Institute
S.C. Johnson School of Management
1 October 2014
By Sukriti Jain, EMI Research Assistant

On 1st of October, in an event organized by the Cornell’s Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) at Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, the attendees had a unique opportunity to understand the socio-political structure of Brazil, the factors that propelled it to the big league, the road ahead and the challenges that it must surmount to assume a bigger role at the global stage. The discussion was articulated by way of weaving it around Prof. Lourdes S. Casanova and Julian Kassum’s new book, “The Political Economy of an Emerging Power: In Search of the Brazil Dream.”

Prof. Lourdes Casanova and Humberto Luiz Ribeiro, former Brazilian Secretary of Commerce and Services and Visiting Scholar at EMI, helped the audience understand how Brazil’s rise to prominence has been different from other emerging economies. Its growth in the last 16 years can be attributed to the synergies between its soft power that translates into a unique concept presented by the authors: the “Brasília Consensus”, and its hard power that finds its source in Brazil’s natural resource abundant economy, which is 7th largest in the world, and the country’s growing multinationals.

Mr. Ribeiro addressed the flip side and discussed the challenges like weaknesses in the education system, innovation deficits, infrastructural snarls, corruption and lack of global integration that inhibit growth. According to him, the government is conscious that these factors need to be addressed for Brazil to circumvent the growth plateau, but public-private partnerships are paramount to bring about the change in the right direction.

Professor Casanova then went on to explain the “Brasília Consensus” as the democratic model of state led socio-economic development, employed by the Brazilian politicians since the post economic liberalization era of the 1990s. It is a mid-path between pro-market reforms and what has been called as “state-capitalism,” and rests on the five pillars of macroeconomic stability, social programs, domestic demand, state-led industry development and political consensus. According to her, the essence of the Brazilian way lies in deploying of all the pillars simultaneously, as mutually reinforcing and not exclusive.

Responding to an audience question, Professor Casanova explained that the recent public outrage in Brazil was not about overthrowing the government. The country’s hybrid policy model mixes market-oriented reforms with state-led industrial development and progressive social policies, and has produced the intended results of inclusive growth, quasi-full employment and the incorporation of 35 million more Brazilians within the middle class. According to her, what the protests have shown is that there is still a lot to be done. In this backdrop, Brazil now faces ambiguity: can the “Brasília Consensus” deliver solutions to its current challenges?

She concluded by saying that innovative tweaks to the model and restoration of political consensus will be crucial. Taking a middle path between full economic liberalization and greater government control seems to be necessitated. Further, not discounting the social programs, long-term structural solutions that boost growth, productivity, employment, minimum wages, education and innovation centric reforms are needed. She feels it will not only help advance the country’s economic and social development, but also keep feeding the country’s soft power on the global stage by reinforcing its standing as a policy innovator and achiever.

Links to the book’s website and Casanova’s Twitter feed:

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