A Comparative Perspective
Edited by Werner Baer and David Fleischer
Chapter 2: A Bird’s Eye View of Brazilian Industrialization
André Villela 2.1 INTRODUCTION Over the course of the twentieth century, Brazilian industry grew from a producer of, primarily, wage (non-durable consumer) goods into a diversified manufacturer of, among others, sophisticated machinery, consumer durables, telecommunication and transport equipment, and industrial inputs in general.1 This long journey, in turn, involved three marked phases, to wit: an initial, market-driven – and export-led – ‘easy’ phase of industrialization; a second phase running from the early 1930s to the late 1980s, which saw the growing role of the state in fostering a modern, ‘complete’, industrial structure; and, finally – and following the overlap of macroeconomic disarray and trade liberalization in the late 1980s – a more market-friendly, ‘globalized’ period of industrial restructuring. This chapter provides a very succinct description of the century-long history of Brazilian industrialization and is organized according to the three phases outlined above. The concluding remarks offer a more personal interpretation of this history. 2.2 OVERVIEW From a long-term perspective, it would be hard to deny the fact that Brazil has been a success story in terms of economic growth in the past 100 years or so. Indeed, from a level of just under $800 in 1890, GDP per capita increased sevenfold, to $5200 in 1980, inching to $5500 by the close of the twentieth century.2 If one restricts the analysis to the period 1950–80, per capita income increased by a factor of four, placing the country firmly in the ranks of only 13 well-documented ‘success stories of sustained, high growth’, according to The...
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