Stagnation, Inflation, and Crisis, 1981-94

Brazil Table of Contents

The effect of the 1974-85 period's industrialization on the balance of trade was significant. The balance of trade moved from an average deficit of US$3.4 billion in the 1974-76 period to an average surplus of US$10.7 billion in the 1983-85 period. In 1985 the share of manufactures (processed and semiprocessed) of total exports reached 66 percent, and between 1971-75 and 1978-83 the share of basic input imports in total imports declined from 32.3 percent to 19.2 percent. The recession and stagnation of the early 1980s had a role in reducing imports. However, import substitution was also important, as demonstrated by the few years of the 1980s that experienced a significant growth in GDP while the trade surplus was maintained.

Between 1981 and 1992, the GDP increased at an average annual rate of only 1.4 percent and per capita income declined 6 percent. Gross investment, as a proportion of GDP, fell from 21 to 16 percent, in part as a result of the fiscal crisis and the loss of public-sector investment capacity. The decline also reflected growing uncertainties regarding the future of the economy. The 1980s became known as the "lost decade," and its problems spilled over into the 1990s. Despite the stagnation of the 1981-92 period, inflation remained a major problem. It sometimes reached very high rates, prompting the implementation of short-lived shock-stabilization programs.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress