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Crisis in Brazil

by Perry Anderson, for London Review of Books

The BRIC countries are in trouble. For a season the dynamos of international growth while the West was mired in the worst financial crisis and recession since the Depression, they are now the leading source of anxiety in the headquarters of the IMF and the World Bank. China, above all, because of its weight in the global economy: slowing output and a himalaya of debt. Russia: under siege, oil prices falling and sanctions biting. India: holding up best, but unsettling statistical revisions. South Africa: in free fall. Political tensions are rising in each: Xi and Putin battening down unrest with force, Modi thrashed at the polls, Zuma disgraced within his own party. Nowhere, however, have economic and political crises fused so explosively as in Brazil, whose streets have in the past year seen more protesters than the rest of the world combined.

Picked by Lula to succeed him, Dilma Rousseff, the former guerrilla who had become his chief of staff, won the presidency in 2010 with a majority nearly as sweeping as his own. Four years later, she was re-elected, this time with a much smaller margin of victory, a 3 per cent lead over her opponent, Aécio Neves, the governor of Minas Gerais, in a result marked by greater regional polarisation than ever before, the industrialised south and south-east swinging heavily against her, and the north-east delivering an even larger landslide for her – 72 per cent – than in 2010. But overall it was a clear-cut win, comparable in size to that of Mitterrand over Giscard, and a good deal larger, not to mention cleaner, than that of Kennedy over Nixon. In January 2015 Dilma – from this point we’ll drop the surname, as Brazilians do – began her second presidency.

Read the full article here.

Perry Anderson is a British historian and political essayist. He teaches history at UCLA.

5 Comments

  1. Seamus Padraig says

    I haven’t had a chance to read the full article yet, but I just wanted to address one important point:

    “China, above all, because of its weight in the global economy: slowing output and a himalaya of debt.”

    This is the official story being spread by the Wall Street Journal et al., but it’s extremely misleading, if not outright false. China’s “himalaya” of debt is almost purely internal and public-sector; i.e., a bunch of state-owned corporations owe money to a bunch of state-owned banks inside of China. It’s no different from, say, the Social Security Administration in the US buying T-bills from the Treasury Department: the government owes the money to itself. In terms of external (that is, sovereign) debt, China is a net-creditor–one of the largest on earth, in fact.

    Regarding their slowing output–they’re only growing at 6% per annum now instead of 10%–the reason is obvious: their biggest export markets, the EU and the US, are both in decline simultaneously. Naturally their export business is off! Now you all better understand the BRICS/AIIB strategy: to become less dependent on the ‘decadent West’ for China’s future growth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jen says

    It’s an interesting if dense and convoluted article but Perry Anderson’s piece says nothing about why now the process for impeaching Dilma Rousseff began in her second term and not before, during her first term; or indeed why moves to throw Lula da Silva and the Workers’ Party didn’t take place earlier.

    Rousseff’s 180-day suspension also has to be seen in the wider context of what is currently happening in Latin America and has been happening there over the past several years. We’ve seen previous Argentine President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner being subjected to attacks from the Argentine highest judiciary courts about her supposed involvement in covering up the investigation into a 1994 bomb attack on a Buenos Aires synagogue. In Venezuela, where the economy has been in meltdown since Saudi Arabia began flooding global oil markets and crashing down oil prices, President Nicolas Maduro’s government is under attack from his political opposition.

    All these leaders mentioned are or have been left-leaning Presidents or Presidents popular with the ordinary people for trying to commit, under trying circumstances, to some version of social democracy (however imperfect or flawed these leaders’ policies and programs have been).

    Current the Internet is a-flutter with news that the current US ambassador to Brazil is Liliana Ayalde who took up her post in late 2013. Ayalde was US ambassador to Paraguay from 2008 to 2011. In 2012, Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was impeached in a process similar to what Rousseff has undergone and still has to face. Curiously Ayalde used similar language in correspondence to express support for democratic institutions during the current crisis in Brazil, as she did in Paraguay in 2009 when impeachment was first mooted against Lugo.
    http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/AyaldeBrazilParaguay-20160514-0017.html

    Liked by 1 person

  3. TC says

    This is an excellent article, and so much better than just about anything else that has appeared in the British press on Brazil. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on wgrovedotnet and commented:

    The US will have been steadily sowing unrest in an effort to bring about the end of the BRICS pact – it is that much of a threat to their own self interests. The petro dollar is under threat, China is selling off US debt and Russia’s ruble is holding it’s own and both countries are buying up vast gold reserves for when the crash comes. Our greatest ally in Europe is Russia if only we could recognise that truth our worst enemy is the US and most especially the IMF and the TTIP. How sad then, that we have picked the wolf in sheeps clothing rather than an honest man(at least as Presidents go). The BRICS nations will be assailed continuously until the US and corrupt allies have trampled it to oblivion, the Asian Bank coalition will be next.

    Liked by 1 person

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