Brazil in Historical, Comparative, and Theoretical Perspective
This chapter summarizes major political, economic, and policy developments of the 21st century and frames them in comparative, historical, and theoretical perspective. In politics, the main developments were the much-debated consolidation of coalitional presidentialism and more programmatic parties. On the side of the economy, major shifts came through the commodity boom, the rise of the new middle class, and declining inequality. However, less visible problems-low productivity and investment-continued to be a drag on growth. In policy making, big changes came in more redistributive social policy and the revival of a more statist development strategy. Compared to other left governments of the region, Brazilian policy making continued, as in previous decades, to be pragmatic. In the bureaucracy, some "pockets of excellence" survived alongside a largely unreformed administration. Theoretically, Brazil's experience forces some rethinking on prevailing ideas about presidentialism, resource curses, federalism, state intervention, and inequality.
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