In the 19th century Brazil, like the United States, was a commodity producer tied to the British market. Britain was the leading investor in both the US and Brazil, and Britain ate up the lion’s share of their exports. But there was a difference: the United States did some things that Brazil did not. We established manufacturing and financial sectors in our economy that could ultimately rival Great Britain in those fields, and we became a producer of new technologies and world-class companies.
19th century Brazil never managed to build those additional dimensions of a strong market economy. In a sense, all of Brazil continued to develop like the American South: a commodity exporting economy based on slavery (not abolished until the 1880s) and peonage. And like the Confederacy, Brazilians long favored a decentralized form of government in which states largely ignored the central government in Rio.
Decentralization spared Brazil some of the bitter social conflicts that shook countries like Mexico and Argentina in the first century of independence, but there was nobody like Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster with the power and the will to turn Brazil into a cutting edge economic power.Read it all. It cannot be emphasized enought that the prosperity of the United States is built not on an agrarian Jeffersonian vision -- the kind of economic policy that lead Brazil into over a century of economic malaise -- but on the vision of men like Alexander Hamilton.