Letter from São Paulo: The bustling beat of Brazil
Gabriel Aleixo recovers from the Rio Carnival and rejoices in the vibrant growth of the Brazilian economy.
Tudo bom? I don't want to make you jealous as it's not the Brazilian way but it's late summer here, and we're still recovering from the onerous business of Carnival partying, where 80% of the annual beer consumption takes place in about a week and about five million people gather to party in Rio alone.
This year, we had more than usual to celebrate, having been surprised to hear we've become the world's sixth largest economy behind France and ahead of the UK. I think the fact we were slightly surprised says a lot about Brazil and the way things are here.
For a start, we don't tend to keep score, unless it's a football match of course and we tend to look towards America rather than our neighbours for comparison and aspiration. We know we're the biggest economy in South America and we're proud of being part of the BRIC growth phenomena but we're also self-consciously small compared with the USA and we tend to ignore China in case we get a complex about its scale too. And, to be honest, 2011 felt like a tough year here with growth slowing from 7.5% to just over 5%.