In the sixties (1968) ,Brazil was among the top ten world economies. It was an industrial power based on public policies designed to support industrialization . Unfortunately, that experience ended up with inflation, fiscal deficit and higher poverty. Brazil missed that opportunity but the seeds were already on the field for the following years. Infrastructure, technology (Brazil has developed its own technology capabilities), Human capital based on immigrants (Japanese, Korean and other groups) supply the energy needed.
After the shocks of the seventies ;Brazil went into the economic contraction like most of the world economies did because of oil prices increases, However, Brazil started out the process of substituting oil to become less energy dependent .They developed ethanol and alcohol as an alternative source of energy, such these days they do not depend that much of foreign oil.
It seems that it is not by chance that Brazil is already on track to be what a lot of economic experts, expected them to be. The most important Latin America economy as a global partner . Thus, its economy progress and stability, has allow them to become member of the so called BRIC group, which includes aside form Brazil, Russia, India and China.-
After the oil shocks of the seventies, and both the political constraint and inflationary experiences of the eighties, in the early nineties Brazil, started off a second generation reforms which handed out public companies to private owners , throughout privatization programs . Improved its macroeconomic institutions with autonomous Central bank, and better fiscal policy design has allow its economy to be ready for the next step, such as to be a global partner.
So, it is not a recent event which has lead Brazil to its current status, but a long way with rights and wrongs . Actually is the main exponent of the so called soft power in Latin America .Everyone respect Brazil even they do little to get so, except for the fact that they work based on pragmatism. The best example about has been President Lula economic policies, which have worked out a framework friendly with markets, but keen with social needs.