Roughly 40 percent of Brazil's 200 million people live in households earning less than $700 a month, according to Reuters. But the government's expansion of welfare spending has helped lift more than 40 million people out of poverty, the news service said.
That achievement is now at risk in Brazil, as well as in other emerging-market nations that are feeling the end of the global commodities boom.
The good times also have left Brazil with a debt hangover, the result of a private borrowing binge over the past decade. As credit now tightens, the economy faces yet another headwind.
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"The real concern is that, faced with a struggling economy, the authorities lean on banks to raise lending further," said Neil Shearing, emerging markets economist at Capital Economics. Such a move would increase the risk of a much harder economic landing at some point during Dilma's second term.
After growing by as much as 7.5 percent the year before she took office, Brazil's economy is on track to expand by less than 1 percent this year. Tax breaks and other policies designed to spur growth have had little effect.
Big spending on social programs also has sparked higher inflation and left the government with widening budget deficits, bringing louder calls for reforms.