Joe Leahy

Joseph Leahy is the FT's Brazil bureau chief. He was previously Mumbai bureau chief for four years and before that Asia companies editor and Hong Kong correspondent. He was also a correspondent in Jakarta for the South China Morning Post and Jakarta bureau chief of AFX.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, under siege over late preparations for the soccer World Cup that starts in June, at last has something to celebrate.

The first of a series of major infrastructure programmes promised to the Brazilian public as part of the tournament has finally been inaugurated – or at least “the first phase of the first phase” of the project. On Wednesday, Ms Rousseff presided over the opening of a new terminal at the international airport in the capital, Brasília. Continue reading »

Brazil’s central bank holds its regular monetary policy meeting Wednesday and the market consensus has rarely been more uniform. Most analysts are forecasting a 25 basis point increase to 11 per cent in the benchmark Selic rate. Continue reading »

Normally investors buy on rumour and sell on fact. In Brazil this month, the reverse seemed to happen. Investors last week began buying stocks on a rumour that President Dilma Rousseff had fallen in opinion polls.

A polling agency, Ibope, then released a poll on voters’ intentions regarding candidates in the planned presidential election this October, showing her holding steady compared with her opposition opponents, disappointing the market punters. Continue reading »

It was not exactly spying on presidents, but revelations in Folha de S. Paulo, a Brazilian newspaper, that Brasília spied on the diplomats of some would-be close friends are a bit embarrassing. Of course everyone does it and of course, the Russians, Iranians and Iraqis – the alleged victims of Brazilian spying in the Folha report – were probably doing it to Brazil at the time when the incidents occurred back in 2003 and 2004.

But the problem here is that Brazil has been taking pains to appear shocked and violated by accusations this year that the US was spying not only on Petrobras and other state-owned companies but on President Dilma Rousseff and her staff. Continue reading »

In the world’s list of exciting jobs, you would think one company would hardly qualify – OGX, the flagship oil company of Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista that has just two days to meet a debt payment or trigger Latin America’s biggest default.

Yet OGX is still hiring and firing. What’s more amazing still, people are stepping up to accept the new jobs. The same day that OGX announced its voluntary debt restructuring talks with creditors had collapsed, it said it was appointing a new director of exploration, Gilberto Carvalho LimaContinue reading »

Brazil’s economy may be facing harder times but Marcelo Di Lorenzo, head of 3i Brazil, says the gloom is not affecting his investments.

The private equity group announced last week that one of these, Blue Interactive Group, a cable operator, has just completed two acquisitions, growing its subscriber base by 60 per cent since 3i spent R$100m on a “significant” minority stake in July last year. Continue reading »

For a different perspective on Moody’s move this week to lower its outlook on Brazil’s sovereign rating, see this commentary from Joaquim Levy (pictured), chief executive officer of BRAM, the asset management arm of Bradesco, one of the country’s biggest home-grown banks. Continue reading »

In a country’s whose telecoms sector has long been dominated by foreign companies, the merger on Tuesday of Portugal Telecom and Oi may be a move towards creating a Brazilian national champion in the sector. Continue reading »

Even in the worst of circumstances, it seems Eike Batista’s oil exploration startup, OGX, retains some of the former pluckiness of its once super-rich entrepreneur founder.

The company announced on Tuesday that finally the moment the market has been expecting for months had come – it was going to miss an interest paymentContinue reading »

No one likes Mondays but the government of President Dilma Rousseff will be waking up to the new week with an especially unpleasant headache.

An auction late on Friday of two key toll roads, meant to be a landmark for the country’s nearly R$1,000bn infrastructure programme, did not go so well. That’s bad news for a government that has less than 14 months to prove that it is serious about an issue that was meant to be its raison d’être – lifting Brazil’s lagging rates of investment. Continue reading »

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The fallout from the scandal over US espionage in Brazil is spreading, and Brazilian makers of telephone network equipment may be the beneficiaries. But Brazil should remember the last time it closed its borders to high tech imports, when the result was not a thriving local industry but years of technological backwardness. Continue reading »

The FT met Guido Mantega, Brazil finance minister, last week and found the chief engineer of the world’s sixth largest economy in ebullient mood.

His principal message – light is at the end of the tunnel for the global economy, with glimmers of hope in the US and even China. In addition, the Brazilian economic model is shifting towards greater investment with plans launched last year to auction road and rail concessions to the private sector as well as others for airports and ports already underway. Continue reading »

Could Brazil have overcome its recent phase of above-target inflation?

The IPCA consumer prices index for July, due out on Wednesday, is expected to show inflation dipped back inside the central bank’s band of 4.5 per cent plus or minus 2 percentage points. Continue reading »

Pope Francis’ visit last week seemed to last forever – every night the pontiff was on prime time television, awing the gathered millions with his sermons on Copacabana beach. His Gregorian tones and the freezing winds of an unusually cold winter made a change for a scene usually associated with the more worldly pursuits of sun-bathing and beer swilling.

Perhaps this week of Catholicism and the constant invoking of the Holy Trinity also infected the strategists at the ruling Workers’ Party in Brasília. What else could have moved President Dilma Rousseff’s to tell Folha de S.Paulo that she and her mentor, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the man who represents the spirit of the PT, are in fact “one”. Continue reading »

Be afraid Mr Blatter, be very afraid

If Fifa had wanted to make itself even more of a target in the political protest movement gripping Brazil, it could hardly have done better than it is doing now.

Instead of remaining quietly on the sidelines, as most of the sponsors of the 2014 World Cup are doing, Fifa is risking diverting attention away from the main focus of the protesters’ wrath – Brazilian politicians.

That’s because if there is one thing most likely to unite two warring parties in a civil war, it is interference from an outsider. Continue reading »