The second Washington consensus and the quasi-stagnation of the Brazilian economy

Vol. 23 No. 3 (2003)

Jul-Sep / 2003
Published July 1, 2003
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))

How to Cite

Bresser-Pereira, Luiz Carlos. 2003. “The Second Washington Consensus and the Quasi-Stagnation of the Brazilian Economy”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 23 (3):343-75.

The second Washington consensus and the quasi-stagnation of the Brazilian economy

Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira
Professor da Fundação Getúlio Vargas, São Paulo.
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 23 No. 3 (2003), Jul-Sep / 2003, Pages 343-375


While in the social and ethical realms the Cardoso administration (1995-2002) was successful, its economic outcomes were frustrating. In these eight years the in- vestment rate did not increase and income per capita growth lagged, while public and foreign debts increased substantially. This poor economic performance may be explained by three chained causes: a mistake in agenda setting, the adoption of the Second Washington Consensus, and the alienation of elites. The decision of setting high inflation as the major problem to be tackled instead of achieving equilibrium in foreign accounts represented a major macroeconomic mistake, which can be explained by the Second Washington Consensus. This consensus proposed in the 1990s that highly indebted countries should grow counting on foreign savings, although this is not the experience among OECD countries. The outcome was to evaluate the real, to increase artificially wages and consumption, so that instead of growth we have been increasing indebtedness. Why this flopped strategy was adopted? Rich countries’ interests are not difficult to guess. On the part of Brazil, the only explanation is Brazilian elites’ alienation in relation to the country’s national interest. As a final outcome, the Cardoso administration ends with another balance of payments crisis.

JEL Classification: O11; E11.

Keywords: Stagnation Washington Consensus foreign savings current account deficit