Brazil economy

For a few days, it appeared that former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had disappeared from the campaign for re-election of his comrade and protégé, incumbent president Dilma Rousseff.

But with only five days left before the second-round run-off on October 26, he reappeared in fine form, ripping into rival candidate Aécio Neves of the centrist PSDB in a speech in Pernambuco, the only state in Brazil’s poor and politically important northeast where Dilma lost in the first round of the elections on Oct 6. Read more >>

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. Read more >>

As if to add substance to complaints from emerging market policymakers about being ignored, a matter mainly affecting middle-income countries became the subject of close global attention only when it emerged as a bone of contention between the US and Europe.

The snappily-titled “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) process, where companies have the right to sue governments for disadvantaging their businesses, has been the subject of deep controversy for years. But since the most vocal discontents were nations like Argentina and Venezuela that complain about more or less everything, it took well-organised campaigning and official German opposition to an ISDS chapter in the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to make it a central concern. 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 >>

Hat tips to a couple of beyondbrics readers for this one: the coining of a new economic predicament in the form of the stagno-squeeze, in which zero growth and rising prices leave governments and citizens squeezing every last drop of benefit from what they already have, given the difficulty of obtaining or producing anything more.

And how apt that Brazil’s government should immediately demonstrate the stagno-squeeze in action, by raiding its sovereign wealth fund to plug a widening hole in its budget. 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 >>

As Brazil’s polling day draws closer, another data point emerged on Friday for the voters’ consideration: consumer price inflation is back above the upper limit of the government’s target range and shows no sign of falling back soon.

The IBGE, Brazil’s statistics office, said CPI in the month to mid-September was 0.39 per cent, bringing the accumulated rate over the past 12 months to 6.62 per cent. That was above the consensus forecast of 0.35 per cent for the month, according to Bloomberg. Read more >>

Another week and yet another cut in the consensus on Brazilian GDP growth this year. The central bank’s weekly survey of 100 market economists has notched up 16 consecutive weeks of downward revisions to bring the consensus on GDP growth to just 0.33 per cent this year. The outlook for 2015 also fell, to 1.04 per cent.

At least the central bank’s survey is not alone. The OECD, also on Monday, in its latest Economic Outlook cut its forecast of Brazilian growth to just 0.3 per cent this year and 1.4 per cent in 2015. That’s down from an expected 1.8 per cent in 2014 and 2.2 per cent in 2015 at the OECD’s last Economic Outlook in May. 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 >>

Growing in Brazil has long been in the sights of Carlos Slim’s América Móvil. The company has almost as many subscribers there as in Mexico, where it is under regulatory pressure.

So teaming up with an existing carrier to buy the country’s No. 2 cellphone carrier might be a smart move.

According to Bloomberg, América Móvil is talking to Brazil’s Oi about teaming up to make a joint bid for the Brazilian operations of mobile operator TIM. Read more >>

With every passing week, the gloom over Brazil’s economy gets a little deeper. The central bank’s latest weekly survey of market economists shows that the consensus for GDP growth this year has fallen for its 15th consecutive week and is now just 0.48 per cent.

Investors dismayed by the interventionist, sectoral industrial policies pursued by President Dilma Rousseff – up for re-election on October 5 – may be even more dismayed to see their latest predicted results: industrial production is expected to fall by 1.98 per cent this year, from a fall of 1.53 per cent four weeks ago. 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 >>

By Jim O’Neill, Bruegel

Is it all over for the rise of the BRIC grouping (Brazil, Russia, India and China)?

On one level, this seems like a rather odd time to be asking such a question, especially when the political leaders of the BRICS countries (the four named above plus South Africa) have recently agreed to set up a joint development bank to be headquartered in Shanghai. So, the BRICS name is certainly here to stay, and in terms of global governance, their influence is likely to rise as a group because of the bank. Read more >>

Another week and yet another contraction in the consensus for GDP growth in Brazil this year. The central bank’s latest weekly survey of market economists has notched up its 14th consecutive week of falling forecasts and now predicts growth of just 0.52 per cent this year – which may even sound optimistic to some after last week’s figures showing the economy was in recession during the first half. Read more >>

The weekly survey of market economists by Brazil’s central bank is becoming the economic equivalent of a limbo dance: each time around, just that little bit lower. This week’s edition has GDP growth in 2014 coming it at just 0.81 per cent, making 11 consecutive weeks of contraction. The outlook for 2015, which had been unchanged for five weeks at 1.5 per cent, has also come down, to 1.2 per cent.

Voters, though, don’t seem to be bothered. Read more >>