As Brazil's Economy Grows, So Does Its Geopolitical Ambition
World Cup, Global Stage
Brazil's trade prowess, as well as its choice of customers, will only become more pronounced, as it yields results from a major crude oil discovery off the coast of Rio de Janiero. The country already produces more than 2.5 million barrels of oil a day.
"The fact that they have that vast resource will be an important bit of leverage for them," says Noriega.
And that could include the U.S., assuming Washington wants to rely less on crude oil from the Middle East.
Navigating that challenge, however, is probably still many years away.
More pressing is the build up and hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the summer Olympic Games in 2016, which will cost tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure. Other countries have stumbled in the execution of one or the other event, never mind both.
"It says an awful lot that they took this on," says Noriega, now with the American Enterprise Institute. "And the international community was eager for [the events] to be there. It's a real vote of confidence."
And a test of Brazil's economic stewardship.
"It doesn't mean a blank check for the president — the government can spend too much," worries Brookings' Pereira, who also teaches at São Paulo School of Economics and School of Business, Getulio Vargas Foundation. "It will generate huge pressure and runs the risk of [the economy] overheating."
Temptation will be great.
By the time of the Olympics, Brazil is expected to be the world's fifth largest economy and the new oil petroleum field will be producing.
"Yes, the resource curse," says O'Neil. "We've seen how it hasn't turned out so well for other countries. Brazil has to be cognizant of that."
Watch our special coverage, "Access Brazil," Monday-Thursday, April 25-28. Maria Bartiromo and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera report from Brazil on Squawk On The Street, 9-11am ET, Power Lunch, 1-2pm ET and Closing Bell, 3-5pm ET on CNBC.