Economy of Brazil
June 20, 2007 3:03pm CST
Possessing large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, as well as a large labour pool, Brazil's GDP (PPP) outweighs that of any other Latin American country, being the core economy of Mercosul. The country has been expanding its presence in international financial and commodities markets, and is regarded as one of the group of four emerging economies called BRIC. Major export products include aircraft, coffee, automobiles, soybean, iron ore, orange juice, steel, ethanol, textiles, footwear, corned beef and electrical equipment. According to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Brazil has the ninth largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity (PPP) and tenth largest at market exchange rates. Brazil has a diversified middle income economy with wide variations in development levels. Most large industry is agglomerated in the Southern and South East states. The Northeast is the poorest region of Brazil, but it has attracted new investments in infrastructure for the tourism sector and intensive agricultural schemes. Brazil's diverse industries range from automobiles, steel and petrochemicals to computers, aircraft, and consumer goods and amount to one-third of the GDP. With the increased economic stability provided by the Plano Real economic package, both Brazilian and multinational corporations have invested heavily in new equipment and technology, a large proportion of which has been purchased from American enterprises. Brazil had pegged its currency, the real, to the U.S. dollar in 1994. However, after the East Asian financial crisis, the Russian default in 1998 and the series of adverse financial events that followed it, the Brazilian central bank has temporarily changed its monetary policy to a managed-float scheme while undergoing a currency crisis, until definitively changing the exchange regime to free-float in January 1999. Brazil received an IMF rescue package in mid-2002 in the amount of USD30.4bn, a record sum at that time. The IMF loan was paid off early by Brazil's central bank in 2005 (the due date was scheduled for 2006). Brazil has a diverse and sophisticated services industry as well. During the early 1990s, the banking sector amounted to as much as 16% of GDP. Although undergoing a major overhaul, Brazilian financial services industry provides local businesses with a wide range of products and is attracting numerous new market players, including U.S. financial institutions and overseas firms issuing and trading Brazilian Depositary Receipts (BDRs). The São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro stock exchanges are undergoing a merger. One of the issues the Brazilian central bank ("Bacen") is currently dealing with is the excess of speculative short-term capital inflows to the country in the past few months, which might explain in part the recent downfall of the U.S. dollar against the real over the past months. Nonetheless, foreign direct investment (FDI), related to long-term, less speculative investment in production, is estimated to be USD 193.8bn for 2007. Inflation monitoring and control currently plays a major role in Brazil's Central Bank activity in setting out short-term interest rates as a monetary policy measure. The IPCA index, measured and calculated by the IBGE on a monthly basis, is the most commonly used index for inflation, although other indices such as the IPC-Fipe and IGP-M (FGV) are also widely used. As a core country of both G20 industrial nations and G20 developing nations, Brazil has been expanding its influence in global economic negotiations, such as the currently debated Doha Round. Although barriers of Brazil's economy to high and fast growth are complex and often debated.