As Brazil’s outgoing finance minister, Guido Mantega, bids “tchau” to his former job , he has at least one thing to feel good about.

While the economy is a shadow of what it was when he took office eight years ago, he does seem to have succeeded in at least one major policy – his campaign to weaken Brazil’s currency, the real.

The man who is credited with making the term “currency war” his own seems to have won his battle to weaken the Brazil’s currency in the face of a tide of foreign speculative hot money. Read more

Brazilian real notesBrazilian officials are accustomed to shrugging off the country’s debt levels by comparing them with those of much more heavily indebted Europe.

Although this misses the point – Brazil’s public debt is more burdensome than in most other countries because it has some of the highest interest rates in the world – the argument is doubly wrong if a new study by Moody’s is to be believed. Read more

Is Brazil’s Workers’ Party, victorious in last month’s elections, ready to back any decision by President Dilma Rousseff to hire Joaquim Levy as finance minister?

Speculation over his likely appointment leaked last Friday into local media, sending financial markets higher.

With a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago and a previous successful stint as treasury secretary under former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2003, Levy seems to be exactly the type of professional that financial markets were hoping might be appointed. Read more

With Brazil’s 2014 election well under way, the ruling Workers’ Party is already unveiling its heavy artillery piece for the next election – Lula.

Incumbent president Dilma Rousseff, questioned whether she would assist her predecessor and mentor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva should he stand in 2018, said she “certainly would”. Read more

The coalition of small parties behind Marina Silva are edging closer to supporting Aécio Neves of the pro-business PSDB party in the second round-run-off of Brazil’s presidential election.

The Brazilian Socialist Party, the leading party behind the candidacy of Ms Silva, who dropped out after placing third in the first round of voting on Sunday, on Wednesday became the second grouping in her coalition to say it was opting for Mr Neves.

The party said it would support Mr Neves, who placed second in the first round, on condition that “an agreement would be discussed and signed concerning policies, considering the urgency to create the necessary environment for a new cycle of development”. Read more

Marina Silva has gone from being a combatant in Brazil’s presidential election to being a king or queen maker.

The question is, will she rise to the challenge or back off as she did in 2010?

Readers may remember that when the former senator and environmentalist came third in the last election in 2010 with 19 per cent of the vote – much as she did this year with 21 per cent of the vote – she declared neutrality, declining to support either the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) or the opposition PSDB in the second-round run-off. Read more

What is this? Brazil is withdrawing $1.5bn from its sovereign wealth fund to plug a hole in its budget.

President Dilma Rousseff justified the move saying the sovereign wealth fund was the equivalent of saving for a rainy day – and that a rainy day had arrived. With Brazil’s economy not growing, the government is missing its budget targets. Read more

After taking a battering from Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff in her effort to win back a lead in the polls, rival candidate Marina Silva has responded with an emotional advertisement calculated to win over low-income voters.

Presidential candidate Aécio Neves receives minor boost in polls

Brazil’s benchmark stock index staged one of its most volatile trading days yet in the lead-up to next month’s election ahead of a poll that showed upstart presidential candidate Marina Silva rebuilding her lead.

The Bovespa index finished up 2 per cent at 59,114.66 after earlier gains of nearly 4 per cent on hopes that the poll would indicate incumbent President Dilma Rousseff was losing, analysts said. Read more

Cometh the hour, cometh the woman. Would a Marina Silva presidency be good for efforts to stop what scientists and activists argue is the continuing threat from deforestation to the world’s tropical forests?

A recent report by Forest Trends, a Washington-based non-government organisation, estimates that five football fields of tropical forest are being converted every minute in South America, Asia and Africa to supply soybeans, palm oil, beef and wood products. Read more

For Marina Silva, the easy part is over. The honeymoon period when she was introduced as presidential candidate is coming to an end. Now the freight train of the Workers’ Party or PT, led by incumbent president Dilma Rousseff, is catching up and if the former senator does not start to show some teeth, she could get run over.

This would at least appear to be the message from recent opinion polls. From a nine percentage point lead in a second round run-off, Silva is now neck and neck with Rousseff. Read more

Just as President Dilma Rousseff thought she had put a scandal affecting state-owned oil company Petrobras behind her, it has come roaring back, nastier than ever.

Paulo Roberto Costa, a former Petrobras executive accused of accepting kickbacks in return for contracts, has reportedly made a plea bargain with investigators that has got Brasília sweating. Read more

When Brazil’s presidential election circus arrived in Rio Grande do Sul this week, it was hard not to see the difference between the styles of the two leading candidates.

Marina Silva, the upstart environmentalist who has suddenly taken the lead in the polls, staged what was almost a stealth visit. On Thursday, she arrived at Expointer 2014, a large agricultural fair on the edge of the state capital Porto Alegre, in a van ,and held tough closed-door meetings with her erstwhile adversaries in the rural sector. Read more

If Brazil’s contestants for the presidency had treated Marina Silva with kid gloves last month as a sign of respect for the tragic death in a plane crash of her running mate, Eduardo Campos, that grace period is certainly now over.

Incumbent president Dilma Rousseff, who is running for a second term, has placed the upstart candidate, who has stolen her lead in the election, firmly in her sights this week. As has third-placed rival Aécio Neves, who is watching the election slip rapidly away from him. Read more

Following her sudden emergence as a potential favourite to win Brazil’s October election, Marina Silva is rapidly coming under greater scrutiny.

In particular, much attention is being directed at her two catch cries. These are that she represents something she calls the “nova política” or “new politics” for Brazil and that she will govern with the support of “os melhores” or “the best” from across the political spectrum, including from the major parties that presently dominate Congress. Read more

Israel and Brazil are locked in a diplomatic spat after Latin America’s biggest country issued a statement condemning Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for using “disproportional” force in Gaza but failed to mention the role of Hamas in the conflict.

An Israeli spokesperson called Brazil a diplomatic dwarf and described it as irrelevant in terms of international diplomacy. Read more

Until recently, common wisdom on Brazil’s presidential election was overwhelmingly that it was president Dilma Rousseff’s to lose.

Now, however, the signs that the incumbent may have to scramble to avoid having a second-term slip from her grasp are coming harder and faster. Read more

Since the Brics first came together for their first annual summit five years ago, it has sometimes been easier to define them by what they are against than by what they are for.

They are mostly against, for instance, interference in other nations’ sovereign affairs, particularly of the unilateral sort. Read more

Does Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff look for the first time like she might lose the October election?

Nomura economists Tony Volpon and George Lei think so. In a note released after a poll by research firm Ibope, they said Rousseff’s chances of losing to opposition candidate Aécio Neves were now 60 per cent. They point to figures that are among the president’s worst polling results since mass protests shook the nation last June. Read more

And the winner is…

What will be the legacy of the World Cup for Brazil? Until now, most people have looked at this question in terms of bricks and mortar – how many new airports, metro lines and stadiums will be created for the tournament?

But Ricardo Sennes, non-resident senior Brazil fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, believes the greater legacy will have been to crack open the stultifying politics of modern Brazilian democracy and set the country on a national dialogue towards reform. Read more