Like the country’s soap operas, Brazil’s presidential elections have been full of drama, improbable story lines and last-minute cliff hangers. Monday night was no different.

Just as Brazilians were beginning to wonder whether Aécio Neves of the centrist PSDB party could actually win this Sunday’s vote, a Datafolha poll showed President Dilma Rousseff ahead for the first time since the first round of elections on October 5. The results are still too close to call though, falling with the polling firm’s margin of error. 

Campaigning for Brazil’s election run-off has begun again and so has the madness, it seems. While there are fewer clowns and footballers vying for votes at this stage, the country’s presidential candidates are already providing plenty of entertainment.

On Thursday, it was President Dilma Rousseff’s turn. On a visit to Brazil’s poorer northeast state of Bahia, home to many black and mixed-race Brazilians, Dilma tried to win over the locals by telling them she, too, was meio pardinha – a complicated concept in Brazil but one that could roughly be translated as “a little bit black”. 

It was set to be one of the biggest massacres of Brazil’s election. On Thursday night Guido Mantega, finance minister, went head-to-head with Armínio Fraga, the former central banker who will take his job if Aécio Neves wins the presidency this month.

Mantega certainly has some explaining to do. The economy is expected to grow a measly 0.2 per cent this year, according to Brazil’s latest central bank survey. That is less than much of the developed and developing world. 

With just over two weeks to go until Brazil’s election run-off, the country is bracing for one of the most acrimonious political disputes in its history: an almighty battle between the “ghosts of the past” and the “monsters of the present”.

President Dilma Rousseff has warned Brazilians that the opposition will take the country back to the dark days of high unemployment and poverty. “When we take a step forward in life, we need to know how to preserve what we have achieved,” explains one PT party campaign video. “We can’t let the ghosts of the past come back and take everything we’ve worked for.” 

If you think you’ve had a tough week, spare a thought for Brazil’s beleaguered political consultants. As Sunday’s presidential election draws closer, they’ve come under increasing pressure from frantic investors to answer the million-dollar question: who will win?

In fact, as Bloomberg points out, it’s actually a billion-dollar question. Since President Dilma Rousseff took office at the beginning of 2011, Brazil’s benchmark stock index has plunged 23 per cent, erasing $300bn of market value. 

Shoppers in Brazil in front of a watch store

Type “Latin America” and “booming middle classes” into Google and you will get more than 40,000 results. The rise of millions of Latin Americans out of poverty over the past decade has defined the region socially, politically and economically. It has also made investors rich.

However, as Moody’s explains in a report on Tuesday, the middle class-led consumer “boom” is coming to an end and, for some companies in particular, the results won’t be pretty. 

Dilma Rousseff is an impressive woman. Under Brazil’s military dictatorship she was held in prison for three years, where she was beaten, tortured with electric shocks and hung upside down for long periods of time. After rebuilding her life, she was elected the first female president in Brazilian history in 2010, setting an example for generations of women to come.

However, in her first official campaign video ahead of October’s elections this week, Dilma has been reincarnated as a…housewife. 

If anyone had any doubts about the political significance of the tragic plane crash that killed presidential candidate Eduardo Campos last week, they only need to see the results of Monday’s Datafolha poll.

Marina Silva, who is set to take over as candidate for the Brazilian Socialist party (PSB), attracted over twice as much support as Mr Campos did before he died and now stands a real chance of winning October’s elections. 

Brazil’s humiliating 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup semi-finals was bad enough but now it looks like the country’s economy may also be heading for a similarly crushing defeat. While annual inflation is creeping up towards 7 per cent, most economists now forecast GDP growth this year of little more than 1 per cent.

Faced with this gloomy scenario, Brazil’s central bank will have little choice but to do precisely nothing at its interest rate meeting this week. 

Luiz Felipe Scolari

Historic humiliation! Historic disgrace! Historic defeat! Worst in 94 years!

The headlines across Brazil’s newspapers on Tuesday night left no doubt: the country’s devastating 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup semi-finals will make Brazilians wince for generations.

There was little anger, few accusations and – perhaps surprisingly – barely any mention of Brazil’s absent star player Neymar or the Colombian defender Juan Zúñiga who broke the Brazilian’s back last week and took him out of the tournament. Instead, the mood was solely of utter despair.


After months of speculation and the world’s longest tightening cycle, it looks like Brazil may finally be done increasing interest rates.

Late on Wednesday, the bank raised Brazil’s Selic rate another 25 basis points to 11 per cent – the highest level in more than two years

Imagine you’re Brazil’s central bank president, Alexandre Tombini.

It’s an election year and your boss is Dilma Rousseff. Growth is slowing and high interest rates are boosting debt servicing costs for voters who are up to their eyeballs in debt. 

The Eike Batista yard sale is not over just yet, it seems.

Brazil’s former richest man is expected to conclude as early as this week the sale of his 33 per cent stake in the country’s treasured semiconductor venture, SIX Semicondutores. The buyer is Argentine billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian, head of the holding company Corporación América. Corporación América confirmed it was in the final stages of buying the stake after Eurnekian visited the site of the half-finished semiconductor plant in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state on Monday. Eike’s EBX group did not respond to requests for comment. 

It’s been another record-breaking day for Brazil, but not in a good way. After data on Tuesday showed car sales fell in 2013 for the first time in a decade, a report from Brazil’s central bank on Wednesday showed the country also recorded the biggest dollar outflow in over 10 years.

Net dollar outflows totalled $12.26bn last year – the largest exit of dollars since 2002 when the election of leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva caused investors to flee the country. 

When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s eve this week, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff probably breathed a huge sigh of relief – 2013 was certainly a year to forget.

The biggest protests in 20 years swept the country, jeopardising her chances of re-election. The country’s most celebrated entrepreneur, Eike Batista, lost investors billions before filing for bankruptcy, triggering Latin America’s largest-ever corporate default.