Joe Biden’s election in November 2020 caused a stir. Many people were relieved to be rid of the unpalatable Donald Trump and nurtured high school hopes that the Democrat would make a better place in the world that his predecessor had worked so hard to spoil. Vice-president in a highly popular administration – inside and outside the United States – Biden enthused. In Brazil, there was no lack of people who saw similarities with the candidacy of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is the only electoral opponent of President Jair Bolsonaro.
There were even those who saw something even more virtuous as a result of the American elections. PT economists recommended Biden’s economic model as the path to be followed by Brazil (read Lula), as Bidenonics. Go understand.
Reality proved to be harsher and more complex. To reactivate the American economy, which had been weakened by the global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Biden opted for populism and indebtedness. He gave away free money to relief programs and inflated the economy of a deindustrialized country. Some estimate that for every ten dollars that the government injected into the economy, something between six or eight ends up in the Chinese economy, where everything from the trinkets to some of the critical inputs for the production of medicines are produced. Generating inflation and almost no investment.
His administration has led the country to record inflation rates, and yet he continues to rule as if the United States’ main problem is the urgent adoption of neutral pronouns and the mitigation of global warming.
The result has been tragic. Inflation means impoverishment. And those who suffer the most from this process (as is well known in Brazil) are the poorest.
The result is that Biden and his Bidenomics, as celebrated in the subtropical academic world, turned out to be a monkey. The world’s largest economy suffers in the public square and the president’s popularity has turned to dust. Not even his co-religionists are willing to support him. The political tragedy is so deep that even his deputy and one of the biggest stars of the Democratic Party has his political future compromised by the administration’s tax authorities.
Biden has become a kind of American Dilma Rousseff.
Few people remember or do not make a point of remembering that Brazil – that country that was taking off towards development – plunged downwards and almost, very little, did not crash to the ground.
The graph below is a comparison of the evolution of the GDP per capita of China and Brazil since 1980, when the Asian country opened its economy. Between ups and downs, Brazil followed a crescent until 2011, when Dilma Rousseff assumed the presidency.
Lula and the PT broke Brazil to elect Dilma. The deputy who had the mission of carrying on with the legacy of growth and abundance, which Lula today evokes as a memory of the good times of his government, was not able to defuse the bomb.
The future of Brazil was raffled by the effort to perpetuate power. The downward curve that began in 2011 is a testament to a tragedy. But many people are forgotten, or make a point of appearing to be.
The forgetting of the fiasco allows those responsible to reappear offering the very same model that took Brazil off the path of development.
This second graph shows that things only got better after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. Showing that the damage was much deeper than the fiscal and institutional damage that earned the friendly name of “pedaladas”.
The Brazil that Lula and Dilma almost broke up was inserted in an infinitely more favorable global economic scenario. Irresponsibility and incompetence were mitigated by the bonanza.
But the wind has changed.
The world is in crisis and the fat accumulated in petismo was consumed by petismo itself. The Brazil that is starting to get back on its feet, as seen in the graph above, has no room for repeating the mistakes of the past that Lula’s economic team (?) brag about.
Biden is far from breaking the United States, as Lula and Dilma Rousseff did. But his administration has the potential to go down in history as tragic. As was the PT.