In 1941, Austrian novelist and playwright Stefan Zweig traveled to Brazil and fell in love. His infatuation generated a book, Brazil: Land of the Future, in which he predicted that the country “was destined to become one of the most important factors in the development of our world.”1 Zweig may have been Brazil's most eloquent advocate, but he was not the first of a long line of foreign adventurers, entrepreneurs, investors, and seasoned businessmen to promote Brazil's potential, nor was he the last to watch dreams of wealth implode in a series of booms and inevitable busts: lumber, sugar, cotton, gold, coffee, rubber—so many that Zweig's book became the basis for a joke: “Brazil is the land of the future and always will be.”

Today, ...

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