The Brazilian Economy: Chronic Inflation and Sporadic Industrialization

The Brazilian Economy: Chronic Inflation and Sporadic Industrialization

The Brazilian Economy: Chronic Inflation and Sporadic Industrialization

The Brazilian Economy: Chronic Inflation and Sporadic Industrialization

Excerpt

There is no lack of descriptive studies which convey to the North American reader knowledge of the basic facts relevant to the history, the geography, and the social and economic life of Brazil. Less readily available are interpretive analyses of the principal current problems. As students of Latin American affairs know, special difficulties arise from the nature of the basic data. They are scarce, often fragmentary in character, and on occasion lacking in reliability. The application of modern quantitative techniques to such material then becomes a hazardous enterprise. Awareness of this danger does not always suffice to eliminate it, but it may tend to reduce it.

In a modest way the present book aims at filling an important part of the gap by analyzing the principal problems of the Brazilian economy. The first draft of the manuscript was completed in Brazil on a visit which the author undertook under the terms of a Guggenheim Fellowship. As the reader will notice, there is a central thesis which to a greater or lesser degree permeates the various chapters that deal with specialized problems. Reduced to its simplest terms it is concerned with the profound contradictions that capitalistic growth and the development of industry create in an environment where powerful forces tend to perpetuate elements characteristic of the feudal order. The issues which arise from these contradictions are of considerable interest. While they immediately concern the student of Brazilian economic affairs, they deserve the attention of all students of industrialization.

Industrialization, unless it is accompanied by the growth of democracy, is liable to create severe internal tensions and have unfavorable repercussions on foreign trade. The development of industry is a boon for a country only if there is a concomitant creation of mass purchasing power, dispersion of incomes, improvements in health, education, and productivity, orderly pro-

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