As part of the FT’s week-long series on the Brics emerging markets, experts on each of the four economies will contribute to the debate about the role of Brics consumers in the global economy. Today’s entry focuses on Brazil, check back throughout this week for entries from the other countries.
By Arminio Fraga
Brazil is thought to be the most western of the Brics—a democracy full of life, an open society, porous to global fads and tastes.
One feature that supports this view is that Brazil’s consumer seems to be totally American, and I mean this neither as an insult nor as compliment, even after the global economic mess we are still digesting. Brazilian households like to buy the newest gadget and prefer to spend on items that will enhance their short-term wellbeing rather than save for a rainy day. This partly explains Brazil’s low saving rate – which has fluctuated around 17 per cent of GDP over the last decade, a number that contrasts sharply with China’s 45-50 per cent.
This massive discrepancy is also driven by the difference between the social safety nets in the two nations: Brazil’s being extensive in coverage (universal health care, education and social security) and extravagant (early retirement with full pay, for example), whereas China’s is very modest. Read more