Bad News from Brazil

I’ve been studying Brazil for nearly 25 years now, and have seen the country pass through many difficult times. For all the bad news regarding Brazil, the nation is still in a very different place than in 1992-93, when inflation was perhaps 1,700 percent annually, and the clerk at the post office had to use a calculator to figure out what a stamp cost on that particular day. A very poor graduate student, I used to change my money late in the week, in the hope that the grocery stores had not had enough time to raise their prices. It was always disappointing to get to the store and see that the stock clerks had changed prices in advance of my arrival. I was also in Rio de Janeiro was President Fernando Collor de Mello was impeached in 1992. For this reason, I tend to take a skeptical look at bad news from Brazil, which often overlooks the many real advances that are being made. Still, it’s hard not to feel pessimistic right now. A recent article in the Economist describes the immense economic and political challenges that Brazil faces. Given Brazil’s importance to Latin America, this piece is worth reading. If you want something a little more uplifting, though, listen to this Planet Money podcast about how Brazil tamed its terrible problem with inflation.

If you are interested in Latin America, you might wish to read either my book on the region’s AIDS epidemic, or my study of military terror in Brazil.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University, 2016

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