University of São Paulo: An economic debate beyond the repetitive day-to-day

The day-to-day of economic news in Brazil passes through Faria Lima, where the fazallimers are , always presented as the wise men who know everything about the causes and future effects of measures x, y, z adopted by the federal government and other sources of power. . There, setbacks, winners and losers (generally the population) are named according to the content of the decision, the right or wrong of adopting it and, at most, the political dispute around its adoption.

Let’s agree, it’s very little in the face of the enormous challenges facing the country and the Brazilian economy, which go sideways, always around the same issues – more State, less State, privatizations hailed as the solution to all our problems (Petrobras , Banco do Brasil, Caixa Econômica Federal, Correios etc…), employment, income distribution and, sorry for the inconvenience, hunger… even though we are the 8th or 9th GDP in the world, fighting head to head with whom? Russia, today in the world’s hot seat.

Therefore, we are encouraged when structural debates fall into our hands about how the evolution (or involution) of the Brazilian economy has brought us to the present day. Yes, the crisis we face daily did not come out of nowhere, it was built day by day, with advances and setbacks (sometimes, more setbacks), wrong decisions and lack of courage or comfort to face challenges head on, to break new ground. new ones, dare to innovate – but really innovate.

This is the case of the recently released book Celso Furtado and the 60 Years of Economic Formation in Brazil . It is the result of a seminar organized by economists Alexandre Macchione Saes and Alexandre de Freitas (USP, Unicamp and Unesp), centered on the author’s main work, released in 1959 and which “quickly became a classic of the country’s economic and social literature” , in their interpretation.

The organizers of the book say in their presentation: “By associating an original theoretical formulation and a synthetic interpretation anchored in the historical-structural method, Celso Furtado focused on the challenges faced by Brazilian society in the 1950s. -condition for an articulated and coherent development project. If this project does not appear with all its contours in Economic Formation of Brazil, the readers of its first editions – students, public servants and representatives of social entities – left the reading with the conviction that, for the first time in history, the national development project had become a concrete possibility. Including the fact that the author has unraveled in the work the tensions and structural dilemmas that stood in the way”.

The year 1959 is part of the “magical” period of JK, president of Brazil, which follows the second government of Getúlio Vargas, and which ran under the promise of a development of “50 years in 5”. The “magic” here is due to the nostalgia with which the time is remembered, especially by those who lived it up close. Construction of Brasília, installation of the automobile industry, highways, new cinema, bossa nova, UNE on the rise, winning the soccer world championship with Pelé and Garrincha and several other good memories from this period. Hence, the “magician”.

During this period, Furtado was director of the Development Division of ECLAC – Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, worked at the National Economic Development Bank – BNDE (without the S), prepared the Northeast Development Plan, which resulted in the Superintendence of Development of the Northeast – Sudene, who came to preside, is appointed Minister of Planning, in the João Goulart government, and prepares the Three-Year Development Plan, with the difficult goal of fighting inflation and maintaining development. A lot, no? But then came the coup of 1964 and all that became scorched earth. Furtado went into exile and continued to produce in the international spaces – universities and institutions – that he had conquered throughout his career, returning to Brazil after the opening, still being Minister of Culture in the Sarney government.

The seminar featured in the book, the result of a partnership between Sesc and Biblioteca Brasiliana, with a preface by Rosa Freire D’Aguiar, encompasses rich discussions on the meaning and actuality of the Economic Formation of Brazil .

No, this is not a discussion about the past, which never comes back. It is a debate about how we got here, why, where we went wrong, of course, where we got it right, but mainly about the missed opportunities to build a developed and sovereign country. A discussion that is on the order of the day, but has not yet spread across the country. Instead of discussing substantive issues, we discuss everyday life, which repeats, repeats, repeats.

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