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Bolsonaro says he’s pro-business. Why is Brazil’s economy struggling?


Jair Bolsonaro’s pro-markets stance helped him win the support of Brazil’s business elite — and eventually the presidency. Experts question whether his policies have hindered the country’s economic potential.

Brazil’s immense economic potential was a major draw at the beginning of the new century. 

The South American country was named alongside Russia, India and China as the emerging markets with the ability to eclipse the world’s biggest economies. 

“But then from 2011 to 2014, you had a slowdown in the Brazilian economy. This was due both to changes in the external sector, but also what I consider some mistakes in the economic policy framework,” said Laura Carvalho, a Brazilian economist and best-selling author. 

The deep economic recession that followed, coupled with political turmoil, fueled the rise of an unlikely winner in the 2018 general election: Jair Bolsonaro. 

His supporters included Brazil’s business elite who believed Bolsonaro would turn the country’s fortunes around. 

That belief appeared supported by Bolsonaro’s appointment of businessman and free-market advocate Paulo Guedes as economy minister, as well as by the Brazilian leader’s pro-business speech at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos in 2019. 

Bolsonaro stated that Bolsonaro would work to reduce the tax burden and streamline regulations to make it easier for producers and business owners. 

However, Brazil has yet to see an economic recovery. Carvalho and other economists point out several policy failures that have held back Brazil’s economic recovery. 

She said that even those who supported him were disappointed that he failed to implement the structural reforms promised by his campaign and that he didn’t pursue the economic policies outlined in the election. 

How did it go wrong? To learn more, watch the video below.