Pandemic did not cause Brazil’s economy downturn. And another lost decade is on the horizon

Brazil is at risk of entering its third 'lost decade' in just 50 years. And while the pandemic made the current crisis worse, it wasn't the root cause

economy crisis brazil lost decade
Volunteers prepare meals to be donated to poor citizens in São Paulo’s city center. Photo: Lalo de Almeida/Folhapress

Anyone who lived in Brazil during the 1980s will remember two memorable events: the constant fluctuations in supermarket grocery prices — often several times a day — and “Sarney’s inspectors,” citizens who harangued shopkeepers in an attempt to freeze prices in the name of then-President José Sarney.

These inspectors would browse stores with a price list in hand and a green-and-yellow badge on their chest, monitoring prices and reporting any “irregularities” to the police. The plan was short-lived, and products began disappearing from shelves as inflation galloped out of control.

Indeed, Sarney’s inspectors were the most visible symbol of what...

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