Monetary and fiscal institutions have played a decisive role in the stabilisation of the Brazilian economy since the mid-1990s. Brazil’s experience of designing and managing institutions to this end is likely to be of interest to other emerging and low- or middle-income economies. In Brazil institutional reforms were predominantly made in response to a succession of internal and, particularly, external crises. Indeed, perhaps nowhere in the world has inflation received as much attention from economists as in Brazil. The consequent accumulation of theoretical and practical knowledge resulted in a wealth of theories about the nature of Brazilian inflation. As such, the Brazilian experience offers many lessons to be learned, both in the sense of what could be done and what is better avoided.
When it abandoned the exchange rate anchor, Brazil was one of the first emerging economies to adopt a system of inflation targets. In the area of fiscal policy, a succession of institutional changes – from changes in the budget and management of the public debt to the fiscal adjustment of regional governments – culminated in the adoption of the Fiscal Responsibility Law shortly after the introduction of new monetary and exchange policies. However, consolidation of the new currency, the Real, and accelerated growth shortly after the turn of the century, followed by the global financial crisis, meant that the agenda of structural reforms was abandoned. New aspects were introduced to economic policy, such as a strong link between the growth of public debt and credit supply.
Recent stagnation, with repeated years of low growth, inflation pushing at the ceiling of its target, and primary surplus below its target, sets new challenges for the Brazilian economy.
Afonso, J.R.; Araújo, E.C. IRIBA Working Paper 07: Institutions for Macro Stability in Brazil: Inflation Targets and Fiscal Responsibility. International Research Initiative on Brazil and Africa (IRIBA), University of Manchester, Manchester, UK (2014) 68 pp.