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João Paulo dos Reis Velloso: A new world in the Tropics?

An economist believes that Brazil can become number one among emerging countries

leo ramosEconomist João Paulo dos Reis Velloso, 77 on the 12th of July, is a unique character on the Brazilian political scene. He was the Minister of Planning from 1969 to 1979, meaning he worked in two military administrations: under Generals Médici and Geisel. But people do not normally associate him with the fear, suppression of civil and political liberties, torture and murder that were characteristic of the tough years beginning in 1964. One thinks of Reis Velloso rather as the competent planner of institutional infra-structure geared towards the development of the country in the sixties and seventies, who believed science and technology played a key role in achieving this objective. So much so that he founded the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada – IPEA), helped to turn the Project and Study Financing Agency (Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos – FINEP) into a competent agency with a respectable fund to manage: the National Scientific and Technological Development Fund (Fundo Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico – FNDCT) and also worked to turn CNPq, Brazil’s National Scientific and Technological Development Council, into a foundation. One also thinks of him as the coordinator of the 1st and 2nd National Development Programs (Plano Nacional de Desenvolvimento – PND) who realized that Brazilian universities and academic research would have much to gain if professors worked full-time or, even better, exclusively, in academia. The former minister also contributed decisively towards the organization of effective post-graduate studies in the country. 30 years later the expansion and improvement of the quality of Brazilian research has become clearly visible.

Reis Velloso has been married since 1975 to Isabel Barrozo do Amaral, with whom he has five children (one of whom has passed away). Those close to him also know of his special interest in Brazilian cinema, his taste for literature, fine arts and his love of culture, in general. One notices how delicately he mentions his memories of Piauí and Parnaíba, where he was born.

After leaving the government in 1979, Reis Velloso worked briefly in private industry, but soon returned to his task of thinking about Brazil: presenting ideas and projects for the country in the National Forum he created in 1988, which, by now, has 80 books. The 20th Forum, which was held from the 26th to the 30th of May, was called “An (uncertain) new world in the tropics”. It provided a perfect opportunity for me to complete this interview, which had begun at the end of 2005 as part of a doctoral thesis. Despite the two and a half year break, the conversation flowed well.

The 20th National Forum left me feeling that we might be facing a turning point for Brazil. What’s your opinion, based on the discussions that were held?
I think Brazil really has a great opportunity, of the sort we haven’t seen for a long time. Of course, there are some macroeconomic problems that weren’t here before: inflation wants to creep back and there’s a dark cloud on the horizon regarding vulnerability to external events. But thanks to our creativity, we came up with a floating exchange rate; this allows appreciation. Yesterday the U.S. dollar was lower than R$1.60: if you want to travel abroad, I suggest you go immediately or buy all the tickets you need. This is happening largely because we are relying too heavily on monetary policy: we’re raising the interest rate; Brazil has the highest interest rate in the world. And we aren’t using fiscal policy: cutting spending. In short, we’re facing uncertainty on a global level, because there are three simultaneous crises.

Much was said about these crises in the Forum. Could you elaborate?
They’re the financial crisis in the United States, the food crisis and the oil crisis. Especially regarding the last two, Brazil is the solution, not the problem. We discussed this in depth and we are working on an idea that will let us take advantage of this opportunity and make Brazil number one among the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China). It’s what I call, in my paper, the creative economy strategy. It involves using  modern capabilities provided by the knowledge economy to develop a creative economy. This means creative companies, creative workers and even creative government (if that’s at all possible, given our traditions). During the forum, Roger Cohen, a famous New York Times columnist, said “Brazil’s future is now”, So it’s no longer that cliché, “Brazil, the country of the future”

Stefan Zweig said that…
He was misinterpreted. He was right in what he said, but nowadays the interpretation is that Brazil is a country whose future is always postponed. That’s where Cohen comes in.

But what do we need for that future to actually turn into reality?
I’d put it as follows: there are numerous studies on the knowledge economy, which is the use of knowledge in all its forms. That includes science and technology, product engineering, process engineering, modern management methods, design and even branding. The modern capabilities of the knowledge economy are intangibles. And we should adapt these capabilities to Brazil’s specific circumstances. What are they? This country is very rich in natural resources. Six months ago The Economist published a survey on Brazil saying perhaps nature was too prodigal in our country. So we have to pay attention to that and need to have a development strategy and a knowledge economy that take that fact into account. Brazil can add medium or high technological content to the natural resource intensive sectors while also developing certain comparative advantages in the high-tech sector.

What natural resources do you think we should add high-tech content to?
The best historical example is Scandinavia. These countries began using their natural resources properly. They had disadvantages: in Scandinavia a eucalyptus tree takes 70 years to grow until it can be cut, while in Brazil it takes seven. But they became very competitive by using lots of science and technology. And today you can use even more, given the other forms of knowledge I mentioned. Currently, the Scandinavian countries export planes and machinery; they’re extremely strong in high-tech. Just think of Nokia, which began in pulp and paper forestry and is now the biggest producer of mobile phones. Natural resources can be a strategic asset or they can be a curse, depending on your choices. I think in Venezuela the riches from oil are wasted; even with these crazy oil prices, the country has not transformed its economy. But the straightforward answer to your question is that we can take those capabilities, that intellectual capital, all those intangibles I mentioned, to add medium and high technological content to commodities, agribusiness and also industrial commodities, such as steel, pulp and paper, petrochemicals, non-ferrous metals. We can even create non-commodities, in other words, special products that stand out.

How can we do that?
Your magazine published an article saying that Brazil has already developed a type of naturally decaffeinated coffee [edition 101, July 2004]. I put it away, and then I got in touch with the Agronomy Institute of Campinas (Instituto Agronômico de Campinas – IAC) and found that there are still some things that have to be smoothed out for that to be explored commercially, because it is significant in the coffee market. It’s an example of how you can make special products in a commodity market. But to give you an idea of the strategic opportunities in the creative economy, let’s talk first about natural resource intensive sectors. I’ve already mentioned agribusiness: Brazil had a revolution in the 1990’s and today it has the best tropical agriculture in the world. Look at this book, by Embrapa [Agricultura tropical: quatro décadas de inovações tecnológicas, institucionais e políticas, i.e., Tropical agriculture: four decades of technological, institutional and political innovation, Embrapa Informações Tecnológicas, 2008]. This has a lot to do with Embrapa’s cumulative effort and using the cerrados (savannahs) productively, which has to do with Johanna Döbereiner’s work on nitrogen fixation. They’re all contemporary: the creation of Embrapa, the conclusion of IPEA’s study on the savannahs’ agricultural potential and, a little later, the Geisel government’s Polocentro program, to develop the savannahs. We don’t only have savannahs in Mato Grosso and Goiás, but also in southern Pará, southern Maranhão, southern Piauí and western Bahia. So, putting together Embrapa’s work and this discovery of the savannahs, Brazil had a great opportunity, and still has a great opportunity, because that’s where we have an advantage, both from the standpoint of agribusiness and of biofuels. Brazil has lots of land available for agriculture without destroying the Amazon, for example. That’s the first opportunity.

And that’s related to both the current food crisis and the oil crisis.
Yes. So, as you can see, Brazil is the solution, not the problem. The United States chose to make ethanol out of corn, which is food. We have sugarcane, which we don’t eat, and which won’t compete with food. Another thing is that lots of land is available, as is the technology. Of course we have to take a step forward there, because we beat the United States in the first round, but now we’re fighting the second round, which is to produce ethanol from cellulose, and Brazil needs to be careful so that it doesn’t lose it’s technology leadership.

Right now FAPESP is launching its bioenergy research program, BIOEN , together with CNPq and the private sector. One of the four research areas is related to investigating the possibility of extracting ethanol from bagasse; enzyme hydrolysis and all that.
Right, we need that. Another thing we need to do is to induce pulp companies to have multiple-use forests to make pulp, paper and ethanol, on top of that. I mean, companies such as Aracruz, Klabin, etc. can do that perfectly, because they know it exists, and it’s a matter of priority. If necessary, we should provide incentives or use other means of persuasion, because this is now an urgent issue, given that the United States are determined to get ahead of us in the second round.

Whoever is fastest in finding technological solutions for ethanol production will also become more influential in other countries, right?
Yes, in emerging countries and in land-rich countries in general. For example, in Africa – China’s there. We certainly have competition; our technology will be transferred, and that’s okay, that’s why we need a technological leap. That’s why we should prioritize production of ethanol from cellulose, and not limit ourselves to sugarcane and bagasse. We need to understand that there’s a new technological generation for ethanol production.

Do you feel a certain openness in the private sector and in government, with relation to that?
Well, they know it exists; companies, the government, BNDES, FINEP, but it needs to become a priority, so that we don’t lose. There’s that, then there’s the whole energy sector. The point is that Brazil can show the world that it’s capable of creating a new energy matrix, thanks to biofuel. And remember: bio means life. That’s where ethanol, biodiesel, flex oil and the rest of it come in. As for hydroelectric power, the two big countries in the world in terms of hydroelectric potential are Brazil and Russia, and it’s just a matter of our finding a faster solution for environmental licensing. There are all these power plants that we could use, and we need a strategic vision. We  lost that, and that’s why we had a widespread power shortage in the nineties. That cannot happen again. On the contrary, we need to be ahead of things to increase the share of hydroelectric power in our energy matrix.

Is there still any room for that?
Certainly, especially in the Amazon, but also in other places. The country has lots of water, that’s another advantage.

Are you also thinking of the Northeast as one of these places, with the idea of diverting the São Francisco river’s course?
If we do it properly, yes. There are two valleys in the Northeast that are very rich in project potential: São Francisco and Parnaíba. Irrigation, irrigated fruit, wine? I drink a wonderful sparkling wine called Rio Sol. It costs R$25. It’s made near Juazeiro, near Petrolina, in that region. The diversion project has to be done in stages, for it to make sense. If we do that we may even be able to take more water from the Central Plateau to the São Francisco, in the future. And you don’t even have to build aqueducts, just canals. But that’s a fourth or fifth stage. And when I say the Plateau, I mean the state of Tocantins, around there. We’ll do the diversion; it makes perfect sense, if it’s done in stages. We have a proposal by Roberto Cavalcanti, the forum’s technical director. He has some very good ideas regarding regional and social development. He takes care of those two areas while I take care of science and technology and national development strategies. Our work is complementary. But, well, there’s also the issue of oil.

As you’ve mentioned science and technology, let’s go back and continue our first discussion. But before we talk about your time in government, let’s talk about your childhood. You were born in the state of Piauí. In what town?
In Parnaíba, which is on the Parnaíba river’s delta. It’s one of the most beautiful regions in Brazil.

Is that where Humberto de Campos also comes from?
He lived there a long time, but he was born on the other side of the river, in Maranhão. And one of the prettiest things in my town is Humberto de Campos’s cashew tree, which is still there. It’s a very special region, because it has the delta, with 70 islands. And the Piauí coast is short, but filled with beautiful, unpolluted, beaches. The islands have lakes, including one made by a river that came from Parnaíba and was dammed in by the dunes and became a lake too. It’s weird: it’s long like a river, but doesn’t go anywhere. And about 70km from Parnaíba you have the seven stone cities: rock formations with inscriptions. The author of “Were the gods astronauts?”, Erich von Däniken, said that the astronaut-gods came to Piauí. Nonsense, they’re tribal inscriptions. Piauí is very rich. For the time being the São Raimundo Nonato inscriptions are being studied. But in the seven stone cities there is one in the shape of a library, another one is very different, each one has a different configuration. And close to that there are baroque towns with pretty churches from the 18th century. In Parnaíba there are also baroque churches. Well, it’s a very privileged region. The island with the main beach, the Pedra do Sal one, is in front of Parnaíba. It’s big, and there’s a lighthouse I used to go up to see the ships”

Until when did you live in that region?
Until 1950, when I was 19. My mother had died, at the age of 38, two years before. Shortly before that, she had asked me “What are you doing here?”. I’d finished high-school, and there was no college there. “Why don’t you go to Rio?” she asked. And I came, for the first time, in 1950, to watch the unfortunate Brazil vs. Uruguay match. I’ve never seen so much crying in my life. And I even thought that football was done for in Brazil. Silly me: in a fortnight everybody was cheering away at some local match.

When you got to Rio, did you go to university?
No. My first concern was to get a job. I went to live in Nilópolis, which was a bit different from what it is today. A friend of mine invited me to stay at his house. There was a cousin of my mother’s who lived in Gávea, but I wasn’t at all close to him. I stayed a little more than a month with my friend, while I looked for a job. I was lucky: I narrowly escaped a famous train wreck in Anchieta, the station after Nilópolis. I was on the next train. That was close! So I thought I’d better find another solution. I had a friend, Jorge Lacerda, who was the director of the Books & Arts section of the A Manhã newspaper; it was the best literary supplement in Brazil. He was a member of the Santa Catarina UDN [political party] and had just been elected a congressman. He tried to fix me up with a job in the newspaper. He took me to Adonias Filho, who had just been made responsible for what were called “companies incorporated to the federal government’s assets”. That included the newspapers A Manhã, A Noite, etc. Adonias said “Look, I’m sorry, I’m firing people right now”. So Jorge turned to me and said “Velloso, you need a job, and I need a secretary; a do-it-all, actually.”

And what about the Bank of Brazil?
That was later. First came the Industry-workers’ Retirement and Pension Institute (Instituto de Aposentadoria e Pensões dos Industriários – IAPI). Thanks to my ranking in the exam, I was employed as the president’s aide. I stayed there until 1954, but in 1953 I was already concerned about the future. I took the Bank of Brazil civil service exam and began in 1955. I lived in São Paulo. When I came back from São Paulo, I became  aide to the president of the  Bank of Brazil . Then came Brasilia, 1960, when the capital was changed. The day after Jânio was sworn in, I rushed back to Rio to get a post-graduate degree in Economics. I decided to study economics when I joined the Bank of Brazil. I had come to Rio to study medicine. Then I thought about going to law school. But working at the Bank of Brazil, I realized that what I was really interested in was economics. In 1960 I was invited to take part in a seminar at the University of Illinois and, at the end of that, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t know economics. I had some good professors, mostly BNDE economists, but there were also the old tenured ones. Well, I got a post-graduate degree from the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, and I’ve been a professor there since 1964. While I was studying, I was obviously interested in development, international economics, fiscal and monetary policy. I had good professors, including James Tobin, a Nobel laureate. I took two courses with him. And I studied like a dog, because the competition was vicious. Three things happened thanks to my time at Yale. First, I really learned to fend for myself and to use those Northeastern street-smarts, like the character João Grilo in O Auto da Compadecida. I decided I had to do better in the tests than the Americans, so I studied hard and went straight to the point. I was very concise, partly because of my limited English skills, and usually got better grades. That’s what I try to teach my students: get to the point. Second, I developed a passion for New York, which is still my favorite city. I was at Yale for two years, from 1962 to 1964. When I came back, in May 1964, Roberto Campos, who was then the Minister of Planning, grabbed me and gave me a mission: to create IPEA. In other words, to think about Brazil from a medium- and long-term perspective. FINEP came a little later, but was restructured in 1967. The idea Campos gave me was to have a project finance institution working together with IPEA. He said that we were going to get lots of resources from international financial institutions, and that we needed good projects. That’s when FINEP was born.

leo ramosYou continued to work in the Ministry of Planning, together with Roberto Campos.
Yes, as president of IPEA. So I took advantage of the administrative reform law and converted IPEA, which was a government department, into a foundation. FINEP became a state-owned company, and IBGE became a foundation.

Was FINEP based on some foreign institution?
No, but from the transformation, we began to reassess the model. By then Campos was no longer the Minister of Planning; it was Hélio Beltrão, for whom I did the Strategic Development Plan (Programa Estratégico de Desenvolvimento – PED), from 1968 to 1970, by the way. For the first time in Brazil, scientific and technological development became a government priority. It was Beltrão’s idea, and so we decided to use FINEP as an agency for the program. I was already in touch with Pelúcio [José Pelúcio Ferreira], who ran the Technology Financing Fund (Fundo de Financiamento Tecnológico – Funtec), at the BNDE. The idea was that he would finance mostly post-graduate grants and various things in technology and scientific development. It was small, so we decided to create the National Technology and Scientific Development Fund (Fundo Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico – FNDCT). My reasoning was that FINEP should be the executive office of FNDCT.

At the time, what was your title?
I was the Planning Secretary-General and represented the ministry in the National Research Council. I could see its shortcomings; it answered to the Secretary of the National Security Council; it had no resources; it was a rigid autarchy; with no resources of its own; it depended on budgetary funding. So we turned the CNPq into a foundation.

So basically you were dealing with all the institutional and financing structure for science and technology.
And Pelúcio came to the FINEP presidency. He was my right-hand man in science and technology. José Dion de Mello Telles later on became the president of CNPq; when it had already become a foundation. Lastly, I also proposed the creation of the National Education Development Fund (Fundo Nacional de Desenvolvimento da Educação – FNDE). The objective was that it would become a sort of education bank, in the future. The group that worked with the administrative reform created the regional post-graduate centers. This was during the time of Jarbas Passarinho. Then post-graduate studies in Brazil took off. With that, the toolbox was complete: the national development plans on one hand, and these administrative, institutional measures on the other. I wrote the two PNDs myself; short, straightforward documents. We also made the PBDCTs, which focused on scientific and technological development.

You have always been regarded as a liberal in politics and a development advocate in economics. You were also well connected in the cultural scene, especially in Rio de Janeiro. So, during the most dramatic times of the military regime, from 1970 to 1973, wasn’t it hard to work on development, development strategies and science and technology strategies?
Look, two things kept us going. First: all the military governments began by promising that we would soon return to democracy. You can read my analysis of the military regime in the Center for the Documentation of Contemporary Brazilian History (Centro de Pesquisa e Documentação de História Contemporânea do Brasil – CPDoc), because I was asked that. Second: even during the military regime, the economic departments were fairly autonomous. The military reasoned that it was a technical area that they didn’t understand, so it was best left to economists. Then Castello Branco got Campos-Bulhões and after that they came in pairs: Delfim-Beltrão, then Delfim-Velloso, then Simonsen-Velloso… And our autonomy in planning and in science and technology certainly increased during the Geisel government, because the president was interested in the field and accepted a thesis I presented to him. I proposed several things. I even asked Geisel if he thought it made sense for the CNPq, the science and technology area, to be on the National Security Council; if it didn’t seem better to have it in Planning. Yes: I am, and have always been, a liberal. As I said in the book, I have never suffered the temptation of the 1930’s, when there was this incredible polarization between the far right and left wings. I’m not a neo-liberal. I’m not a post-liberal. I’m an old-school liberal, in the classical sense; liberal, period. That’s all. I’m a free shooter in politics and economics. I’m in favor of development. I wouldn’t say I’m a development advocate because I’m afraid of “isms”. I’m in favor of development in a global sense: economic, social, political, cultural, even spiritual, because I think that’s important for the country. So that, for me, is the big priority. All the other economic objectives have to be second to that. And that’s where science and technology come in. Because, more and more, science and technology are the big agent, the big engine driving development. Innovation is virtually a new name for growth. And, to keep things short, that’s all in a paper I wrote, from a knowledge economy perspective (which is the trend for the new development model worldwide): “Evolving towards a knowledge economy” (“Evoluindo para a economia do conhecimento”). I think one of the important things I did when we were launching all the science and technology instruments in the 1970’s was a very important contribution of IPEA’s to the development of the savannahs. In 1960 the consensus was that the savannahs were no good for agriculture. And when I met the chief of the agriculture sector of IPEA, Maurício Rangel Reis, who was later Minister of the Interior, I proposed a study on the savannahs, because my intuition told me they could be the new frontier for Brazilian agribusiness. This little book has historical value regarding the agricultural frontier of the savannahs. And it was complemented by Johanna Döbereiner’s research on nitrogen fixation in plants. I met Johanna, I think her work was admirable.

Back to the present: in this new design for a creative economy, what room is there in your studies and projections for products derived from biodiversity which we don’t yet understand fully; pharmaceuticals, for example?
Before we get to that, I’d like to talk about an issue that’s closely connected to what we’re discussing. I said that Brazil can add medium and high technological content to natural resource intensive sectors. But what about the ones that aren’t intensive in natural resources? Our concrete proposal, which is part of the creative economy strategy (and there’s also a complementary paper from Brascom) is to transform Brazil into a third global center for IT. Because, even though the United States is still the number one country in the world in innovation, the generation of IT services has been shifting to India and China. And Brazil could be third. Look, India exports US$25-30 billion in software per year. Brazil, which is more creative, exports only 800 million. Why does that happen? It’s because we don’t have a strategy. We’re starting to get one: the Productive Development Plan (Plano de Desenvolvimento Produtivo – PDP), which is industrial policy by a different name. It includes incentives for exporting software.

In the nineties and late eighties, but the late eighties were economic chaos?
Yes, that’s when the forum began. Inflation was 80% a month.

But after the chaos, the government tried to provide some incentives for software, but things didn’t work out very well. What went wrong?
The thing is we were like Hamlet, always in doubt: to have or not to have active incentive policies for certain sectors? The government was divided between those who thought the country should have them and those who thought we should just have horizontal policies, encourage competition, etc. That’s very important, especially because it doesn’t exist. But to develop the big winners, yes, you do need clear, sector-specific incentives.

And does that apply to any economy in the world?
Yes, the entire world. We are the only innocent ones. Everybody does it and we argue about it. José Roberto Mendonça de Barros, who at the time was Secretary for Economic Policy in the federal government, one day got tired and left. Then he called me and said “Look, I want to take part in the next Forum”. I said fine, he’s my friend. I asked what the subject of the paper he was going to present was. His answer was: a new industrial policy; meaning he was done with all the indecision. So, in this Information Technology sector, Brazil can become a third global center. Actually, the market is looking for a new player, because India has several problems. First there’s the time difference: it’s 11 hours. Today you use IT online, everything is instant. So it’s a problem if you ordered software from someone in India, and when they’re getting up, you’re going to bed. It takes 24 hours to get there. There’s also the issue of terrorism, war with Pakistan, two nuclear programs, etc. Furthermore, it’s a matter of not putting all your eggs in one basket. And it’s not just about software. Bear in mind that Intel is building a digital island in Paritins, an island in the heart of the Amazon. And they say “from here we’re going to communicate with the whole world”. To get to Paritins, in the back of beyond, the land of “meu-boi-bumbá” [folklore festival], you need a boat or a plane.

And why do you think they chose to establish themselves in Paritins?
On purpose, because it’s the heart of the Amazon. They can say “By doing this we are showing that from this little island we’re in touch with the whole world.” Because, naturally, they have a new generation of chips.

Do you think that goes to show that it’s worth investing more in IT in Brazil?
Yes, why is Intel doing that? Because Brazil is already its third or fourth biggest market. And even in computer production we’re already number four, even though the country is not competitive on an international level, which is a shame. We don’t export. But let’s go back to your question on our chances with biodiversity. That’s probably Brazil’s biggest opportunity, and the one it takes the least advantage of. Brazil is only using 1% of its biodiversity. We have the biodiversity of the Amazon region, the Mata Atlântica forest along our eastern seaboard (of which only about 6 or 7% is still standing), the Savannah (the biodiversity here is huge, according to a new study by the University of Brasilia), the Caatinga (semiarid climate) and the maritime biodiversity which is huge, considering we have an 8,000 kilometer coastline. Just look at the Cagarras archipelago, and there are two universities doing research there. Well, but we’re still left with all this discussion about how to avoid  deforestation in the Amazon region, the Mata Atlântica forest, etc. And our position on this issue is very clear: there is only one way to preserve the forest and simultaneously increase economic density in the Amazon region: biodiversity-based biotechnology. Anything else destroys the forest, and there’s no point trying to control it, because you can’t. It’s just a matter of prohibiting any other activity, there’s no middle ground. They’re uncontrollable; they will always destroy the forest.

But then you’d need a whole different legal apparatus and…?
Yes, including a new regulatory framework. We’re dealing with new life-forms on a molecular level, or active pharmacological ingredients. The interpretation of current legislation says you can’t patent molecules and active ingredients. How can you develop biotechnology under these circumstances?

The creative economy model shares a history with the forum itself, right?
I think I’ve already told you I have about 30 books on the knowledge economy, but one of them is central, and it’s on my desk. It’s a World Bank study. Every year the Bank publishes the World Development Report. What interests us is the 1998 one on the knowledge economy. Based on this work, the bank did several studies for different countries: China, India, Korea, Ireland; a very good piece of research. We took this study, brought it to Brazil and in 2001 won the Jabuti Economics Prize for the book, published by José Olympio. In the years since, we have evolved and reached the vision of a creative economy.

To finish: what did you do between leaving the government and starting the Forum? Lastly, where did you get the idea to finish a forum  opened by the President of Brazil with a discussion on love?
Answer to the first question: I worked in the private sector and even ran the risk of getting rich. Can you imagine someone from Piauí getting rich? But then came the forum, and the original idea wasn’t even mine. There was a discussion between Paulo Guedes, who was my vice-president at Ibmec (which, at the time, stood for “Brazilian Capital Markets Institute”) and Peter Knight, World Bank senior economist. During this conversation they came up with the idea of putting together a group of economists to discuss the crisis Brazil was going through in 1988. I proposed something even broader: a national forum of leaders, in line with the plurality of all the institutions I founded. On the cover of the first forum’s dossier were Groucho Marx and Einstein – two forms of intelligence, and Riobaldo Tatarana’s quotation. But let’s go to love in times of hatred: when I was preparing the forum program, I thought it had to be different. We’ve got Mr. Bush. Now, I don’t know whether he likes to make love, but he likes to wage war, and never-ending wars at that! And social life, all the violence in Rio; as soon as the army leaves the drug trafficking begins again in the shantytowns. I opened the first seminar on shanty-towns last year and said: there are the landless, the roofless, and you are the stateless. There’s no state to establish law and order, no state to carry out social policy, so Rio de Janeiro has become one big shanty-town, with all this drug-trafficking and violence. It’s a world filled with violence on a personal level too. So we have to talk about love.

To balance?
Hatred! The numerous forms of hatred. So I asked Maria Adelaide Amaral, a writer, to talk about great love stories.