Brazil politics

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 »

If investing is all about value creation, the latest batch of figures from Brazil’s central bank make for sobering reading. They show the rich returns you can make when investing in Brazil goes right – and the huge losses that result when it goes wrong. Over the past three years, foreign direct investors and buyers of Brazilian portfolio assets have suffered value destruction on a colossal scale.

An analysis of central bank figures by beyondbrics shows that ,taken together, flows of foreign direct investment to Brazil and foreign investment in Brazilian portfolio assets were worth more than $260bn between January 2011 and November 2013. Over the same period, in spite of those inflows, the value of such assets held by foreigners fell from $1,351bn to $1,327bn, a loss of $24bn, implying value destruction of more than $284bn in less than three years. Continue reading »

By Paulo Sotero of the Woodrow Wilson Center

Low expectation is the best thing going for Dilma Rousseff as she prepares for her first appearance as Brazil’s president at the annual conclave of global business leaders in Davos this week. Her absence from the World Economic Forum over the past three years was explained by officials in Brasília as a political decision, indicative of her low regard for the annual assembly of the masters of globalization. Things have changed. Continue reading »

The 13th in our series of guest posts on the outlook for 2014 is by Marcos Troyjo of Columbia University

As a new year begins, uncertainties generally abound. But that is not true about Brazil in 2014. Quite the contrary. The world can clearly see what is coming Brazil’s way: a country treading below potential.

When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was campaigning for president in 2002, he wanted to signal his willingness to stick to the tenets of economic stability established by Fernando Henrique Cardoso and yet push for change in other fronts. He did so by writing a ‘Letter to the Brazilian People’. Continue reading »

Justice in action

For the first time in their country’s recent history, Brazilians finally had a taste of seeing politicians going to jail for corruption.

Last Friday – symbolically, the same day that the Proclamation of the Republic is celebrated in Brazil – the court decreed prison for a group of 12 politicians and bankers involved in the scandal of Mensalão or ‘big monthly payment’, the vote-buying scheme in Congress that used public funds to pay bribes. Continue reading »

Pope Francis’ visit last week seemed to last forever – every night the pontiff was on prime time television, awing the gathered millions with his sermons on Copacabana beach. His Gregorian tones and the freezing winds of an unusually cold winter made a change for a scene usually associated with the more worldly pursuits of sun-bathing and beer swilling.

Perhaps this week of Catholicism and the constant invoking of the Holy Trinity also infected the strategists at the ruling Workers’ Party in Brasília. What else could have moved President Dilma Rousseff’s to tell Folha de S.Paulo that she and her mentor, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the man who represents the spirit of the PT, are in fact “one”. Continue reading »

Brazil’s Congress is a lot like a chaotic call centre. No one knows who is responsible for your complaint; the problem is constantly referred on to another person; and it is resolved only when you threaten to take the matter to a superior, or to sue.

This week in Congress is a case in point. Continue reading »

When Brazilians took to the streets to protest last month, one of the most surprising elements was the absence of traditional political parties and unions.

The unions tried to make up for that on Thursday with a so-called “Day of Struggle”, but ended up giving out more of a squeak than a roar. Continue reading »

Stability – economic, social, political – became such a byword for Brazil in recent years that it almost seemed the country had changed places with old stalwarts, such as Europe and the US.

While the once seemingly rock-solid developed world was melting down, Brazil stood out as a model of all things, well, boring. The economy grew, unemployment was low, banks did not fall, the same party (PT) stayed in power and people seemed happy even though there were doubts over whether the national football team had lost its legendary magic. It even looked like Eike Batista might pull off his crazy scheme of running start-up oil and gas companies.

These last couple of weeks, however, have seen colour return to Brazil. Continue reading »

There has been some noise and confusion around Brazil’s ruling Workers’ Party (PT) recently, particularly regarding what on earth its champion, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, thinks about the recent political upheaval on the streets and how his anointed successor, Dilma Rousseff is handling it. Continue reading »

After a meeting with governors and mayors on Monday called in response to the biggest protests in Brazil in nearly a generation, President Dilma Rousseff announced five pacts ranging from political reform to better public health.

Here is a list of the five, their likelihood of being effective (mostly very little), followed by a beyondbrics wishlist and its likelihood of happening (next to zero). Continue reading »

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil has promised a referendum “to authorize establishing a specific constituent process” on political reform, as one of five responses to mass demonstrations on city streets across the country over the past fortnight. In other words, voters will decide whether to call a constituent assembly charged with overhauling Brazil’s dysfunctional political system.

As Reuters reports, the process could take years. Plenty more will be said and written about it. For now, below is a translation provided by the government of Rousseff’s speech in full before state governors and mayors of state capitals in Brasília on Monday. Continue reading »

We Brazilians are a peaceful lot – too much, so some might say. While we are proud of our pacific ways and they are widely praised abroad, some level of activism and willingness to protest is needed to “keep the bastards honest”, as the saying goes. Now, after years of silent compliance, it seems there’s a generation ready to take to the streets again with the rise of the student bus fare protest movement in São Paulo and other cities in recent weeks. Continue reading »

This month, while Brazil’s attention was focused on getting back to work after the summer and Carnival holidays, something extraordinary happened in Brasília. The government got even bigger.

President Dilma Rousseff is engaged in tough negotiations with her allies over who should assume the mantle of her newest ministerial level position, the secretariat for small and medium enterprises. The post will be her 40th cabinet-level position, giving her enough ministers to staff her own small or medium business. Continue reading »

By Alfredo Behrens of the FIA business school

For the past half century Brazilian politics has produced exceptional leaders from very different backgrounds. But no such leaders have their roots in the world of business.

A business background would help give politicians a better strategic sense of what is possible. In Brazil, however, business does not seem to breed national leaders, as it does in the US or Chile – not that I would present either as a template for Brazil. But the lack of national prominence among business leaders raises an important question: does Brazilian business groom people for leadership at all? Continue reading »