What Tracey Samuelson doesn’t get about Brazil

I was listening to Marketplace on Wednesday (see link) and was astonished by Tracey Samuelson’s report.

Let us assume for the moment that by “help Brazil’s economy” Ms Samuelson does not mean “help Brazil’s rent-seeking oligarchy.” Let us assume that she actually means helping attract investment to sectors other than petroleum that could produce sufficient growth in wage goods as to promote domestic consumption, exports, and sustainable growth. Since Rousseff herself is not tainted by corruption, since her principle sin was to allow the courts to expose and prosecute corruption — thereby provoking the witch-hunt that proved her undoing — it is difficult to see how her removal and replacement by the very oligarchs facing corruption charges could help Brazil’s economy. 

No one doubts the populist fervor, both against, but mostly in favor of Rousseff. Nor does anyone doubt the popular disgust with corruption. But, so far, the only tangible result from popular disgust with corruption has been the impeachment of a President whose courts had the audacity to prosecute corruption. So let’s ask some very specific questions:

  1. Will Rousseff’s impeachment strengthen judicial, administrative, and legal independence? No.
  2. Will her impeachment weaken “crony capitalism” in Brazil (which, measured by the percentage of GDP owned by billionaires, according to The Economist, Brazil ranks just ahead of the US)? No.
  3. Will her impeachment empower consumers? No.
  4. Will her impeachment reduce wage inequality? No.

One expects better, more thorough analysis from Marketplace. And, no, reporting on popular discontent does not count as reporting. Who are Rousseff’s detractors? What is their role and what are their interests in shaping the institutional, legal, and regulatory environment of Brazil? Why were the oligarchs so furious with Rousseff?

You can do better. 

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