The Financial Times' John Paul Rathbone and Jonathan Wheatley examine the perennial Brazilian optimism and the international anticipation on the eve of the nation's September presidential election.
Brazil is a happy country – or so many believe. Indeed, the flair of the country's football, the collective ecstasy of its carnivals, its multiracial inheritance and, of course, that skimpy swimwear are all part of Brazil's immense “soft power”. Add in a fast-growing economy and Brazilians can – according to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the country's outgoing president – lay claim to being “the happiest and most creative” people in the world.
There is some truth to this boast. On the eve of presidential elections expected to return Mr Lula da Silva’s preferred candidate, Brazil has seemingly never had it so good. Although still scarred by gaping social inequality and violent crime, it is one of the fabled fast-growing Bric economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China – that are reshaping the international order. Last week’s $67bn share offering by Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company, is the world’s largest ever and just the latest expression of Brazil’s emerging financial clout. The country is already an important regional hub for capital formation; by 2025 it is forecast to be one of the world’s five biggest economies.