Few would disagree that Brazil is going through a deep crisis. In 2002-2010, per capita income grew 2.7 per cent a year. In 2011-2013 it slowed to 1.8 per cent a year and in 2014-2015 it will contract a staggering 2.3 per cent a year. Unfortunately, projections suggest it is unlikely to recover to the level of 2013 before 2022.

There are disagreements, however, on the causes of this crisis. For many, it is above all political. For them, the economy requires first a solution to Brazil’s political nightmare and, then, adjustments rather than actual reforms to get back on track and regain the confidence of investors. Read more

Education policymakers worldwide often make a pilgrimage of sorts to Finland and Singapore to learn about their high performing education systems. These states consistently do well in PISA tests, which are organised by the OECD every three years to measure and compare the competencies of 15-year-olds worldwide. There is no doubt that their achievements are impressive, but there is more to be said for examining places that are rapidly improving rather than those that are already highly effective. This week, CfBT Education Trust published a report exploring school reform in five world cities including three in emerging markets, where there has been rapid improvement in recent years.

Despite enormous diversity, the report has identified seven common trends that link educational success in each of these places. Strong leadership, commitment to reform and collaboration between schools are among the factors that have driven up standards. These cities have used education to break the link between poverty and attainment in a way that has not be done before and which could have profound implications for social mobility and their social and economic structures. Innovation and creativity have set new standards in these cities which could be applied in emerging markets across the world. Read more

The crisis that has paralysed Brazil’s politics this year and thrown its economy into what is set to be its longest recession since the 1930s has reached new lows. Revelations by Brazilian and Swiss authorities about Swiss bank accounts held by Eduardo Cunha, a Rio de Janeiro congressman and president of the Chamber of Deputies, have complicated opposition efforts to impeach the discredited president, Dilma Rousseff.

Last week, Brazil’s Supreme Court suspended its deliberation of procedures instigated by Cunha as the gatekeeper of Congress to begin Rousseff’s impeachment on the grounds of illegally tampering with the 2014 federal budget and in connection with a massive corruption scandal under federal investigation, involving national oil company Petrobras, construction companies and politicians of all major parties. Read more

Stopping the downward spiral of Brazil’s economy will take a bitter combination of tax increases and spending cuts. But highly negative reactions to the latest set of such measures announced in Brasília on Monday suggest that the government of president Dilma Rousseff no longer has the credibility needed to be able to contain the crisis it brought upon the nation through miscalculation, mismanagement and an astounding incapacity to govern.

The measures – centred on the recreation of a tax on banking transactions that was shelved just three weeks ago after being rejected by the business community, the public and vice-president Michel Temer – have little chance of being implemented by such a discredited president and government. Read more

By Márcio G. P. Garcia, Lucas Maynard and Rafael Fonseca

The deterioration of the Brazilian economic situation in the last few months is quite impressive. Looking through a few of the recent economic indicators, the only ones that are pointing up are the ones that you would like to see going down: inflation, unemployment, delinquency rates, interest rate and public debt.

Despite an economic policy U-turn in the second Dilma Roussef´s government, represented by the substitution of the heterodox Finance Minister Guido Mantega by the University of Chicago-trained Joaquim Levy and by the Brazilian Central Bank’s much tougher monetary policy stance, the government has not been able to contain a deterioration in the expectations. The confidence indicators are at their lowest level in history, indicating that not only is the situation dire, but also there is no likelihood of it getting any better in the short term. Read more

For much of the past two decades, Brazil and Mexico seemed at times to be on a collision course. Diplomats from Latin America’s two largest nations were often preoccupied, if not obsessed, with a competition for an elusive role as regional leaders and players in the post-Cold War shifting global scene. The 2013 battle for the post of director general at the World Trade Organization, won by Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevêdo over Mexican Herminio Blanco, a former trade minister, left plenty of hurt feelings. Ironically, the dispute for influence also led to convergence. The 2011 creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations (CELAC), proposed by Mexico to affirm its Latin American identity and counter a perceived Brazilian effort to separate it from the region, was warmly embraced in Brasília as a way project leadership by promoting formats that excluded the US. Read more

To many South American leaders, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit this week couldn’t come at a better time, and from a better country. China has been busy with Latin America, surpassing the United States as South America’s leading export destination outside of the region, according to the China-Latin America Economic Bulletin.

What is more, the ink is barely dry on big loan agreements to Venezuela and Ecuador, or a major China-Latin America cooperation plan signed in January that pledges to increase trade by $500bn and investment by $250bn and to cooperate on science and technology, trade, and environmental protection. Read more

Brazil’s economy – as beyondbrics readers know – is in serious trouble, and the unorthodox policies of the country’s embattled president, Dilma Rousseff, have been major contributors to the Brazilian real’s sharp depreciation. But as an analyst who has a long-held negative view on the Brazilian real, it is interesting to ask – at this moment – whether we might be missing something now that investor sentiment has caught up with our bearish stance on the currency.

In short, given the real’s steep drop since 2011, has Brazil’s currency hit a bottom? Read more

I have just returned from abroad. It felt like déjà vu from a distant past. Explaining Brazil has become complex again. “I read about corruption accusations, popular protests, deficits and crises; what is happening in Brazil?” I was asked by an important investor. The answer inevitably tends to be long and full of Buts and Ifs.

Nevertheless, I will make an effort to summarize it here in a straightforward way. Brazil did not invest enough during the favorable commodity cycle. Policymakers did not recognize the end of the cycle in time. When they did, they tried to go back to a past that no longer existed. Now, Brazil must adjust everything at once to avoid a worse crisis. But markets are dynamic: with the recent depreciation of the real, there are already investors looking for opportunities. That is the reason Brazilian assets rebounded lately. Read more

Blink and you missed it. The day after the US Federal Reserve appeared on Wednesday to put back the date of its long-awaiting interest rate rise, analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote to clients: “Emerging market currencies temporarily halted their losing streak with a dovish Federal Open Market Committee sending the USD lower.”

“Temporarily” is right. The Brazilian real closed at about R$3.21 to the dollar on Wednesday from its open of R$3.24, a rare day’s gain in a two-month slide. But on Thursday it was back on course, falling quickly beyond R$3.30 before recovering a bit, an intraday move of nearly 3 per cent. In less dramatic manner, the Turkish lira, Russian rouble and South African rand all resumed their downward slides, too. Read more

It was a cathartic weekend for Brazilians, as more than a million people took to the streets to show their discontent with the government in scenes not seen since the mass demonstrations that preceded the impeachment of President Fernando Collor de Mello more than a decade ago.

Sadly, any idea that such a “cleansing of the soul” (as they sometimes say in Brazil) would be followed by a fresh optimistic start on Monday quickly evaporated as the central bank’s weekly round of consensus forecasts showed no end to the deepening gloom. Read more

The Brazilian real continued its collapse on Monday, passing the barrier of R$3.10 to the US dollar just three trading days after going through the R$3.00 barrier. The currency is at its weakest for more than a decade and has lost half of its value since its peak of R$1.54 to the dollar in July 2011.

There is little reason to expect a recovery any time soon. Read more

Brazil, it seems, simply can’t put its house in order. The real hit R$3 to the US dollar during trading on Wednesday for the first time in more than a decade, after Renan Calheiros, president of the Senate, rejected a presidential decree that would have raised payroll taxes. The measure is seen as essential to meeting ambitious fiscal targets set by Joaquim Levy, the market-friendly finance minister installed in January to rescue the economy, and was the subject of a public rift between Levy and President Dilma Rousseff last weekend.

Failure to meet those targets – or even the fear of failure – puts Brazil’s hard-won investment grade credit rating in jeopardy. Markets were especially jittery on Wednesday, economic daily Valor Econômico reported, as a team from Standard & Poor’s, one of the three global ratings agencies, arrived in Brazil to evaluate the country’s credit risk. Read more

As Brazil’s monetary policy committee sits down in Brasília the consensus view is that it will attempt to regain some credibility in the fight against inflation and raise its policy interest rate by 50 basis points for a third consecutive time. That would bring its target overnight rate, the Selic, to 12.75 per cent a year. Even after discounting inflation of about 7.5 per cent, that is still a very hefty 5.25 per cent a year. So whatever the Copom announces on Wednesday evening after two days of deliberation – it will be either 50bp or 25bp – it will raise protests from labour unions and others worried about the impact of high interest rates on consumption and jobs.

But policy makers may well feel that, right now, inflation matters more. Read more

Another week goes by and the outlook for Brazil’s economy gets gloomier still. The consensus on GDP is now for a 0.58 per cent contraction this year, according to the central bank’s latest weekly survey of market economists, while industrial production is expected to contract by 0.72 per cent. Inflation is expected to rise to 7.47 per cent; the central bank’s policy interest rate is seen ending the year at 13 per cent.

The survey was published on Monday after a weekend that saw yet another apparent rift open up at the top of government, along with some surprising behaviour by President Dilma Rousseff. Read more

So much is going wrong in Brazil that it is hard to keep up. For years, critics have accused the government of incompetence. Now its actions are looking catastrophic – so much so that there are good reasons to think President Dilma Rousseff, who began a second four-year term only on January 1, may not last much longer.

Here is our list of 10 things that threaten to bring her down. Read more

Back in November, we wrote about an analysis of tweets in Brazil that illustrated the extreme polarisation of the country’s voters on the eve of the presidential election on October 26. A striking image (seen in miniature on the left) generated by Marco Aurélio Ruediger and colleagues at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas, an educational institution in Rio de Janeiro, showed voters on each side of the two-way race talking exclusively among themselves and almost never to each other.

Three more snapshots produced by Ruediger and his team since the election suggest a big change has happened in the debate taking place on social media – but that supporters and opponents of the government remain as polarised as ever. Read more

By Chris Tucker of MBX Systems

“What do you know about shipping product into Brazil?” When I think of the conversations I have had with our appliance customers over the last several years, this question makes a regular appearance. Brazil’s rapidly growing IT market (estimated at $191bn) and developing infrastructure have been appealing to our small and large customers alike, in markets from broadcast media to security. It is easily apparent why this market is so interesting, but it can actually be more taxing than one may think due to multiple factors.

Read on if you are considering shipping product into Brazil and want to know the challenges of selling and deploying your technology there. Read more

If Petrobras’s chief executive Maria das Graças Foster had any doubts about her popularity among investors she only had to look at Brazil’s stock market on Tuesday.

Petrobras’s shares jumped over 13 per cent in afternoon trading, pushing Brazil’s BM&FBovespa index into positive territory, on rumours that President Dilma Rousseff had finally decided to give Graças Foster the boot. Read more

By Rodrigo Zeidan, Fundação Dom Cabral

The debate over the minimum wage in the US is an interesting one. Wages have been falling in real terms for the last 30 years but there is strong resistance to any kind of increase in the federal minimum wage. The social contract in the US calls for a flexible labour market, and market efficiency trumps equality considerations. Not even Nobel Laureates can influence the debate. But there are lessons to be learned from the strong real growth minimum wage policies in two of the Bric countries, Brazil and China. Read more