It’s great to be back in Rio de Janeiro, despite some unwelcome rain today, and to witness the continuing transformation of Brazil, now the 6th largest economy in the world, a move from 7th place which took place as recently as March this year when they overtook my original home country, the United Kingdom. Brazil’s economy grew by 2.7% last year compared to the UK's 0.8% growth, taking it to a total of US$2.51 trillion, compared to the UK, which now stands at US$2.48 tr.
But hang on, how can this be possible? I so vividly recall the Mexico World Cup in 1970 when the two captains, Bobby Moore and Pele, embraced at the end of England’s defeat by 0-1 to Brazil in the qualifying rounds (see photo right) when Brazil was regarded as a very poor country indeed compared to the UK which, whilst in decline from its peak in 1929, was still one of the world’s super-powers in political, economic and fiscal terms.
In 1970, the UK’s GDP was $1.24 trillion and the 5th largest economy in the world (after US, West Germany, Japan and France) a fall from 2nd place only 10 years earlier (behind the US). Brazil’s GDP was $0.42 trillion and the 10th largest in the world (after the top 5 above, plus Italy, China, Canada and India).
Can it really be true that, in only 40 years, not even one lifetime, Brazil could have come from being only one-third of the size of Britain to actually overtaking them?!
It makes me wonder how much more can change in just the next 10 years? Brazil is poised to overtake France ($2.8 tr) in the next few years, with only Germany ($3.6 tr) and Japan ($5.8 tr) between them and the top 2 economies in the world (currently USA and China). India (now in 11th place at $1.67 tr) will almost certainly outflank them (despite their growth slowing to 7.5% this year) and Russia (now in 9th place at $1.85 tr) will also climb into the top league.
Can you find a way to ride this wave, before others do?