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Brazil’s Way Out

WASHINGTON, DC – Now that impeached Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is out of office, it is up to the newly empowered administration of President Michel Temer to clean up Brazil’s macroeconomic mess. Can Temer’s government save Brazil’s crumbling economy?

The situation is certainly dire. In fact, Brazil has lately been experiencing the most powerful economic contraction in its recent history. Its per capita GDP will be more than 10% smaller this year than it was in 2013. And unemployment has soared to more than 11%, up four percentage points from January 2015.

Brazil has no easy route to recovery for a simple reason: the current rout derives from the intensification in recent years of long-standing economic vulnerabilities – in particular, fiscal profligacy and anemic productivity growth.

Consider Brazil’s fiscal position, which has deteriorated rapidly since 2011, with a 3.1%-of-GDP primary surplus giving way to a deficit of more than 2.7% of GDP, leading to an overall budget deficit of close to 10% of GDP. In fact, the groundwork for that deterioration was laid a long time ago.