Economy - overview: Brazil is the eighth-largest economy in the world, but is recovering from a recession in 2015 and 2016 that ranks as the worst in the country’s history. Falling commodity prices reduced export revenues and investment, which weakened the Brazilian real and cut tax revenues. The weaker real made existing public debt, which was largely denominated in foreign currency, more expensive. Lower tax revenues strained the government budget.
Economic reforms, proposed in 2016, aim to slow the growth of government spending and reduce barriers to foreign investment. Government spending growth helped to push public debt to 78% of GDP at the end of 2017, up from 50% in 2012. Policies to strengthen Brazil’s workforce and industrial sector, such as local content requirements, may have boosted employment at the expense of investment.
Former President Dilma ROUSSEFF was impeached and convicted in August 2016 for moving funds among government budgets; the economy has also been affected by multiple corruption scandals involving private companies and government officials. Sanctions against the firms involved — some of the largest in Brazil — has limited their business opportunities, producing a ripple effect on associated businesses and contractors. In addition, investment in these companies has declined because of the scandals.
Brazil is a member of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur), a trade bloc including Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. After the Asian and Russian financial crises, Mercosur adopted a protectionist stance to guard against exposure to the volatility of foreign markets. Brazil and its Mercosur partners have pledged to open the bloc to more trade and investment, but changes require approval of all five members, which makes policy adjustments too difficult to enact.
Definition: This entry briefly describes the type of economy, including the degree of market orientation, the level of economic development, the most important natural resources, and the unique areas of specialization. It also characterizes major economic events and policy changes in the most recent 12 months and may include a statement about one or two key future macroeconomic trends.
Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on January 20, 2018