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BIPR | Brazil One Year After January 8: Where to Now?
Brazil One Year After January 8: Where to Now?

February 1, 2024 - 15:30

Filipe Campante - Alessandro Merli - Jacqueline Mazza

Event Recap

On January 8, 2023, pro-Bolsonaro supporters attacked numerous government buildings in Brazil's capital after the incumbent lost the election. Filipe Campante, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS and the Carey Business School), discussed where Brazil is now. Despite the recent turmoil, he described the country as relatively "boring" as more stable political leadership has taken over. An acute threat to democracy was quelled, and it is important now to analyze what has happened in the country as well as what has not happened. Campante also highlighted who he described as "key players" in Brazil's politics who have helped get the country back on track and maintain stability.

One key player was the independent electoral board which made the judgment that Bolsonaro would be banned from running in elections for the next eight years. Campante compared the January 8 attacks to the January 6 attacks in the US and noted that unlike in Brazil, former President Trump is back on (most) ballots in the US with a strong potential for winning again. Campante then discussed Fernando Haddad, Minister of Finance, whose work has led to economic growth of three percent. Part of this is due to a disappointing harvest from Argentina which led to higher agricultural success in Brazil. Next was Roberto Campos Neto, President of the Central Bank and "Lula's favorite villain" according to Campante as the Central Bank governor had been perceived as excessively aligned with Bolsonaro. However, when inflation skyrocketed worldwide in 2022, Brazil was ahead of the curve with raising interest rates which led to inflation falling.

The next two key players were the Speaker of the House, Arthur Lira, and the President of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco. Congress has acquired more control over the budget which has led to positive change, particularly in tax reform. The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Marina Silva, has also taken on an important role as Brazil is working more than ever toward positive environmental change, which Campante describes as the biggest change from Bolsonaro. Finally, his two "least valuable players" were the Chief Advisor to the President, Celso Amorim, and the Minister of Defense, José Múcio. The Lula administration has chosen to accommodate the military and concede to demands to avoid conflict.

The next speaker was Alessandro Merli, Associate Fellow at SAIS Europe, who discussed Lula's previous presidential term from 2003-2010. Meril emphasized that Lula needs to understand he is in a starkly different global age now considering US-China tensions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As China is Brazil's largest trading partner and Brazil is heavily importing diesel from Russia, it will be very difficult for Brazil to not take sides. The final speaker was Jacqueline Mazza, Senior Adjunct Professor of International Development at SAIS Europe. Mazza shared a photo of Lula and Biden meeting after January 8 and described it as a reset of US-Brazilian relations. Through this relationship, the US has committed $500 million to the Amazon Fund for the countries' shared support of environmental policies. Additionally, both support expanding the UN Security Council. Though challenges such as Lula's stance on Venezuelan President Maduro may lead to future foreign policy dilemmas, Brazil continues to find its footing in this new equilibrium and enjoy newfound successes.

Brazil One Year After January 8: Where to Now?

hosted by Professor Jacqueline Mazza

Filipe Campante
Johns Hopkins University SAIS
Alessandro Merli
Discussant - Johns Hopkins University SAIS Europe
Jacqueline Mazza
Chair - Johns Hokins University SAIS

Filipe R. Campante is Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS and Carey Business School).

He is interested in political economy, development economics, and urban/regional issues. His research looks at what constrains politicians and policy makers beyond formal checks and balances: cultural norms, institutions, media, political protest. In particular, it has focused on how these informal constraints are affected by the spatial distribution of people and economic activity, by access to information, by the evolution of cultural norms, and by the structure of the economy. He tries to answer these aggregate questions — what happens to countries or states or cities — with an applied microeconomic approach.

Campante's work has appeared in leading academic journals such as the American Economic Review and the Quarterly Journal of Economics, among others. It has also received multiple mentions in outlets such as the New York Times, Science, NPR, Washington Post, The Economist, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Affairs, Politico, among others.

Campante is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and was Assistant and Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard (2007-18). Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he holds a PhD from Harvard University, an MA from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, and a BA from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, all in economics.
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