By John Paul Rathbone, in
It has been almost 50 years since Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz recorded the bossa-nova hit “The Girl from Ipanema”. Much has changed in
The song has become elevator music and the young girl from
In the mid-1960s,
Those, helped by the commodity price boom, laid the ground for steady growth during the 2000s. And now things have come full circle, with the overheated Brazilian “miracle” of the 2010s.
Much as when the girl from Ipanema first sashayed across the beach at
It is a question at the forefront of the minds of those attending this year’s World Economic Forum on
That the coming decade might be
Plug in 2005 commodity prices, for example, and
Meanwhile, the government has pursued the state-led mega-projects – most particularly in the oil sector – in which Dilma Rousseff, the president, believes and that are part of a global ideological shift towards bigger government. The echoes with the 1960s and 1970s are eerie – and not just in
The Brazilian real is the most overvalued major currency in the world. Cheaper imports have made Brazilians feel richer, feeding a consumer boom. But domestic manufacturers have appealed for help – and the same kind of tariff protections that characterised the doomed economic model of bygone years.
Finally, to deal with the global financial crisis, the government opened up the taps – and has only just started to withdraw the stimulus. Ultra-low interest rates in the
That has given
Managing abundance is hard. Economists increasingly warn
That is a difficult task. Yet unless it is met, the almost unprecedented current boom – as with so many in the past – will eventually pass Brazil by, just like the girl from Ipanema who when she walked to the sea, looked “straight ahead, not at me”. Ah, what a wasted opportunity that would be.
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