Enemies of the Lula government

Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze), [untitled], 1988
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By PAULO NOGUEIRA BATISTA JR.*

The traditional financial capital-media bloc, with its overseas ramifications, is potentially the most dangerous adversary.

I wanted to talk today about the enemies of the Lula government. There are many, as you know, some open, others not so much. Nelson Rodrigues spoke of “intimate strangers” who approached him in the street without the slightest ceremony. We can also speak of “intimate enemies”. Their presence in the government is noticeable, they are infiltrated there, installed in important positions. Maybe “enemies” is too much of a word for some of them. Let's say "adversaries", at the very least.

I start with the declared enemies: the extreme right, fascists, Bolsonarists. I venture the following comment. The extreme right is undeniably strong, as seen in the close result of the presidential election and the Bolsonarist success in the elections for several important states, as well as for the Senate and the House. But she does not overthrow the government. It disrupts, turmoils, puts lives at risk, murders, practices terrorism, destroys public property. It just doesn't have the strength, or internal or international support, to turn the game around.

Perhaps the main political effect of far-right agitation is to weaken Lula, at least a little, in the face of other hostile internal forces. I am referring to the military, the centrão and, in particular, the bloc formed by financial capital (the so-called “market”) and its sidekick, the traditional media. It's not easy to fight all of this at the same time. Today, I leave aside the government's external enemies or opponents, who carry less weight than its internal counterparts and who can only decisively influence, in a country the size of Brazil, in alliance with them.

If the “market” and the traditional media are pessimistic and even desperate, as reported, this is probably due to the fact that Lula composed or tries to compose with the centrão, through Arthur Lira and other political leaders, and with the military. , through the Minister of Defense, José Múcio Monteiro, leaving, however, the “market” and surroundings basically out in the open.

So it seems to me. The President made and will still make concessions to financial capital, but he did not serve these interests very much in the escalation of the economic area – or not as much as they had hoped. Unlike what happened in Lula's first term, a period when Antônio Palocci, of sad memory, was Minister of Finance, the bufunfa gang does not have hegemony. He has, it is true, command of the Central Bank, guaranteed by the autonomy law, but he wanted more, especially in the Ministry of Finance, the most important of those that resulted from the subdivision of the Ministry of Economy.

Lula's strategy, if I'm understanding it correctly, seems correct to me. The traditional financial capital-media bloc, with its overseas ramifications, is potentially the most dangerous adversary. It has a lot of real, economic and political power. It is the dominant segment of the business community. And it has a legion of spokespersons for its interests, economists and journalists who are registered employees of the status quo. Always with great repercussions in the media, they are now dedicated to what became known as economic or fiscal terrorism. A type of terrorism that can be more harmful than that of Bolsonarists. And they also spread economic misinformation.

I'll take one of these economists for Christ: Arminio Fraga, who was for a long time president of the Central Bank in the Fernando Henrique Cardoso government. In a full-page interview with FSP (8/1/2023), Armínio Fraga combined arrogance with flawed arguments. The interview is long, I only give a few examples. He declared himself, firstly, to be highly concerned about the economy. The signs, he said, are not good and could lead to an "economic disaster". The government had not yet completed a week, dear reader, but the economist was already talking about “disaster”…

The interviewee regretted that the government is not moving towards the model of Lula's first term, a period in which economic orthodoxy prevailed: "After Palocci, the strategy changed radically - and it was this mistake that led to the collapse of the economy." His view of the evolution of the Brazilian economy is highly distorted, not to use a stronger word. Arminio Fraga attributes the collapse of the economy in 2015 and 2016 to the “fiscal hole that started in 2014 and 2015”. And, he adds to this statement, without making any sense: that “today, part of the inheritance that President Lula receives came from himself”. Slight problem with the dates. Lula's second term ended in 2010. How can he be blamed for a “fiscal hole that started in 2014 and 2015”?

Fiscal policy may even have been excessively expansionary in 2014, as is often the case in election years. But, in 2015, it was managed by the Minister of Finance, Joaquim Levy, who carried out a strong and unsuccessful orthodox adjustment – ​​a point omitted by Arminio Fraga, perhaps to protect another member of the tribe of government officials. status quo.

In any case, can the collapse of the economy in 2015 and 2016 be attributed exclusively or even mainly to economic policy mistakes by the Dilma Rousseff government? How can we not mention, for example, the disastrous effects of the political crisis unleashed to overthrow President Dilma Rousseff? Who can deny the great impact on the economy of the bomb agendas in Congress and the Lava Jato operation?

The economist asks Lula for “humility” and hopes that PT members and economists recognize their past mistakes. Okay, self-criticism doesn't hurt anyone. However, Arminio Fraga has not, as far as I know, made a self-criticism of the economic management in which he participated in a prominent position. Fernando Henrique Cardoso handed over the economy in pieces to Lula in 2002, but Arminio Fraga apparently had nothing to do with it…

*Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr. he holds the Celso Furtado Chair at the College of High Studies at UFRJ. He was vice-president of the New Development Bank, established by the BRICS in Shanghai. Author, among other books, of Brazil doesn't fit in anyone's backyard (LeYa).

Extended version of article published in the journal capital letter, on January 13, 2023.

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