Brazil’s gross domestic product fell back by 3.6 percent in 2016, marking the second year in a row of decline and the longest recession since GDP figures were first tabulated in 1948, the Brazilian Census Bureau (IBGE) said Tuesday. GDP declined by 3.8 percent in 2015. The 2016 decline affected every economic sector. Worst hit was agricultural production, which fell 6.6 percent on a series of mostly weather-related crop losses. Industrial output fell by 3.8 percent while services retreated 2.7 percent. The only good news was that fourth quarter figures showed the start of a possible recovery. Fourth-quarter GDP was down only 2.5 percent against the fourth quarter of 2015. Most economists are predicting a modest rebound for 2017, with growth on the order of about 1.0 percent. The recovery could accelerate in 2018 to as much as 3.0 percent growth. The long recession was provoked by accumulation of massive government, business and consumer debt. It was exacerbated by persistent inflation and high interest rates. Inflation is now in retreat and the Central Bank has kicked off an aggressive policy of rate reductions.
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