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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 »

As Joe Leahy reported in Monday’s FT, the death knell is sounding for Brazil’s economic strategy. Within hours of publication, Brazil’s central bank supplied a few more nails for that strategy’s coffin in the shape of its weekly survey of about 100 market economists. The news: growth is trending down and inflation is trending up – dangerously so. Continue reading »

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 yearsContinue 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 »

Few things appeal to Brazilians more than the combination of a cold beer and a barbecue while watching a soccer game. If the match happens to be part of a World Cup, especially one being hosted in Brazil, then that’s just another excuse to drink more beer.

The recipe for a good festa in Brazil this year seemed almost infallible – that is, until this week, when the government intervened with some terrible news: it plans to increase taxes on beer and some juices, as well as sports and energy drinks. Continue reading »

That was then

Back in 2008, President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva boasted that the tsunami of the global financial crisis would register barely a ripple, uma marolinha, in Brazil. Bar Mexico, this was true for the rest of the region too. Today, though, Latin America is more vulnerable to a devastating “sudden stop” in international capital flows.

As Agustin Carstens, the head of the Mexican central bank, warned last week, such an event could be triggered by higher US interest rates. Or, more worryingly, it could follow a sudden collapse of commodity prices should China’s economy slow abruptly. But how much more vulnerable is Latin America today? About 20 per cent more, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. 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 »

Standard & Poor’s, the international rating agency, cut Brazil to one notch above junk on Monday evening, adding to a chorus of complaints from many in the investment community, not to mention ordinary Brazilians, that the country’s once-promising growth story is currently shot to pieces.

No prizes for guessing how that went down in Brasília. As if to remove any doubt, the finance ministry put out a strongly-worded statement, rubbishing S&P’s decision point by point. But the ministry hasn’t done itself any favours. Continue reading »

Back in January, at what I had hoped was the height of São Paulo’s unusually intense summer heatwave this year, I went out to buy an electric fan. My first four stores had sold out. The fifth was down to its last item. Later, reading the newspapers, it became apparent that this was happening across South America’s largest metropolis.

The heat is one thing. More worrying is that this year it has not been accompanied by the usual late afternoon thunder storms. The result is a water shortage so severe that São Paulo’s main reservoir, the Cantareira System, is full to just 15 per cent of its capacity, its lowest level since records beganContinue reading »

Some good news at last for the beleaguered Brazilian government: GDP growth in 2014 was 2.3 per cent, including 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, beating surveys by Reuters and Bloomberg which both had a consensus for 0.3 per cent in Q4.

Among those heaving sighs of relief will be the central bank, whose widely-followed GDP indicator, the IBC-Br, had suggested a marginal contraction in activity in the fourth quarter, which would have put Brazil into a technical recession (two consecutive quarters of contraction). Continue reading »

“But you are Brazilian!” – after I rejected a sexual advance.

That’s what it says on the card above, one of several used in a campaign to report discrimination suffered by Brazilian students at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. Continue reading »

In recent weeks, social media in Brazil has been abuzz with talk of the rise of a new breed of vigilantes or justiceiros in society.

With the World Cup later this year, and the summer Olympics in Rio in 2016, overseas visitors will naturally be concerned with their safety. However, the sort of treatment being meted out by citizens rather than officials may do more harm than good for Brazil’s image. Continue reading »

Russian potash producer Uralkali has decided to invest in port infrastructure in Brazil in a move to bolster its position in the world’s fastest growing fertilizer market.

In a statement on Friday, Uralkali said it had acquired a 25 per cent of Equiplan Participaceos, the main shareholder in Terminais Portuarios da Ponta do Felix, a terminal in the city of Antonina on Brazil’s southern coast. Continue reading »

Ouch. This isn’t any old deficit – Brazil has just registered its worst month ever, in terms of trade. Imports outweighed exports by $4.06bn in January, despite a weaker real that should, in theory, be giving a boost to exports.

But how bad is it really? Beyondbrics had a quick dig into the numbers. Continue reading »

It would be exaggerated to call Davos the “money Oscars”, as Jon Stewart did on the Daily Show. But this year, WEF participants did like to think of countries as winners or losers, especially among emerging markets. In this last roundup, beyondbrics summarises who, to paraphrase the FT, “was hot – and who decidedly not.” Continue reading »