Brazil as an Economic Superpower? Understanding Brazil's Changing Role in the Global Economy.

Author:Langevin, Mark S.
Position::Book review

Lael Brainard and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, editors. Brazil as an Economic Superpower? Understanding Brazil's Changing Role in the Global Economy, Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0815702962 256pp., paperback, $24.95

"Why might Brazil succeed where others have failed? One possible answer is that the country is reaping the benefits from its legacy of policies that were intended to advance self-sufficiency and autonomy from international markets but are now paradoxically conferring important advantages for engaging with the world economy as its leadership seeks to seize opportunities in globalizing capital, product, and energy markets (5)." Brazil as an Economic Superpower?: Understanding Brazil's Changing Role in the Global Economy, edited by Lael Brainard and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, asks all the right questions. Can Brazil finally reach the elusive grandeza that has eluded this resource-rich country for two centuries? Even more to the point, can Brazil, with the world's ninth largest national economy, exercise international leadership while building "domestic support for outwardly oriented strategic policies?" These timely questions frame a set of analyses that promise to explain Brazil's recent economic development and deepen an understanding of its emerging global leadership.

The book begins with three chapters devoted to Brazil's very successful agriculture and energy sectors. In chapter two Ricardo Ubiraci Sennes and Thais Narciso explain how Brazil developed from a nation-state in search of transportation fuel self-sufficiency to an emerging energy superpower. In chapter three Andre Meloni Nassar reveals the essential overlap between this country's increases in agricultural production and productivity and its successful transition to the sugarcane based ethanol and flex fuel passenger automobile model.

In chapter four Geraldo Barros reports the tremendous success of Brazilian agriculture and explains how this sector increased production and raised productivity as both government subsidies and farm prices fell in the past two decades. Taken alone, each analysis documents Brazil's arrival as an agricultural powerhouse and emerging global leader in oil and ethanol. Yet, taken together these chapters fail to collectively detail the critical connections between the performance of agribusiness, the strategic exploration and development of Brazil's oil reserves, the rise of the country's multinational firms in...

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