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From Inside Brazil : Development in a Land of Contrasts

2006, Thomas, Vinod

The overarching theme of the book is development in a land of contrasts. There have been large economic, social, and political changes. The mass of society is far more expressive and politically involved today. In 1945, the country had 7.4 million voters, about 11 percent of the population. Today it has 120 million voters, or 67 percent of the population. The economy has been modernized, the capitalist ethos spread across regions, mass communication reached every part of the country, and basic education (though of varying quality) has become almost universal. Poverty has been reduced, but inequality remains extremely high. Moreover, the country has become more violent and prone to disorder. Meanwhile, the state has become weaker and less present where it should be present (in the slums and urban fringes), and more present where it should not be. The author captures remarkably well the transformations of the 1990s, when Brazil deepened its insertion into the global economy, opening to imports and to foreign direct investment on the one hand, and increasing its competitiveness on the other. This led to a great expansion of exports, and to the return of large trade surpluses, increasing considerably the share of trade in the country's gross domestic product. However, there is an unfinished agenda with two main imperatives. The first is the need to enter a new and sustainable growth cycle; the second concern is the reform agenda, especially the economic and institutional reforms that are highlighted by this book. Finally, social and environmental issues must remain a high priority.

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Brazil : Equitable, Competitive, Sustainable--Contributions for Debate

2004, World Bank

This volume presents a set of Policy Notes prepared by the World Bank's Brazil Team with partners during 2002 as a contribution for the debate of policies by the new federal and state governments elected in October 2002. The objectives of making these Policy Notes available to a broader audience is twofold. It could contribute to the discussion in Brazil and elsewhere about public policies to be formulated by the Brazilian governments for the period 2003-2006, and beyond. It could also serve as a vehicle to exchange lessons of experience from Brazil to the rest of the world and vice versa. Since the Policy Notes were written for an incoming administration that would be well familiar with recent developments in Brazil, they do not attempt a comprehensive assessment of Brazil's impressive recent progress but rather focus on the challenges in areas where World Bank and related partner experience appears relevant. The Policy Notes were prepared during 2002, a period during which economic uncertainties mounted ahead of the presidential elections of October 2002. They do not reflect information on the important policy discussions and developments after the elections. These notes do not deal with all policy issues of relevance for Brazil. Even on those issues which are addressed, the assessment may be focused on specific aspects. The selection of topics and the emphasis in the Policy Notes are, thus, driven by policy priorities and their timeliness. The Policy Notes do not attempt to present a comprehensive policy agenda; rather, they are meant to constitute timely contributions for discussions. The initial objective was to pull together findings of past World Bank Group studies, based on numerous other work by Brazilian and international authors, and experiences on Brazil, as well as relevant international experiences, and make them available to the new governments in a synthetic form.