Posts Tagged ‘Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’

As the Brazilian economy slips into recession, voters may opt for free-market solutions

| September 5th, 2014 | No Comments »

Key points:

News of recession in Brazil and skepticism about President Dilma Rousseff’s track record and platform threaten Rousseff’s October reelection chances. In the first round of voting on October 5, Brazilians will decide whether maverick environmentalist Marina Silva or establishment opposition governor Aécio Neves da Cunha—both of whom offer free-market policies—will face Rousseff in an October 26 runoff. Brazilians will likely support the candidate most likely to spur economic growth and unlock Brazil’s productivity and wealth—meaning the stability and prosperity of a natural US partner are at stake.

Signs of economic stagnation and simmering popular dissatisfaction in Brazil could not have come at a worse time for President Dilma Rousseff, who is seeking reelection in October. According to midsummer polls, voters’ skepticism about her track record and statist platform appeared to open the door to a challenge from probusiness candidate Aécio Neves.

Political maverick Marina Silva, who ... Read More

Mexico’s Energy Reform: So Far, So Good

| September 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Inside Sources

By Roger F. Noriega and Felipe Trigos

The enactment of the “secondary legislation” to implement Mexico’s energy reform is an impressive step forward.  That country’s economic future could be fundamentally transformed, if Mexico’s leaders follow through on a transparent, sustained effort to modernize the oil, gas, and electricity sectors and keep government spending and interference from undermining prosperity.

For the first time in 80 years, Mexico has opened the door to private investment in the energy sector, leaving behind years of anachronistic resource nationalism that has contributed to the decline of the state-owned oil company, Pemex, and the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).

Insufficient investment in exploration and infrastructure, over-taxation, political interference, union influence, and corruption all have contributed to the decline of Pemex.  From 2001 to 2013, oil production in Mexico fell more than 30 percent. Meanwhile, the CFE has lost almost a billion dollars in 2012 and 2013 for similar ... Read More

Deadly Plane Crash Turns Green Evangelical Into Brazil Kingmaker

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Raymond Colitt and David Biller

She’s an environmental activist and an evangelical abortion opponent. She’s been called pro-market and a socialist. And now Marina Silva is the kingmaker in one of Brazil’s most-contested presidential elections.

Silva, 56, became the wild card in Brazilian politics after her running mate, presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, died in a Aug. 13 plane crash. While political analysts and investors say she will probably replace him on the ballot, her stance on the environment clashes with vested interests in a party she joined after failing to form her own, said Andre Cesar, director at public policy and business strategy consultants Prospectiva.

Silva stands to upset the campaigns of her two leading contenders if she jumps into the race. She could divide the vote enough to rob President Dilma Rousseff of a first-round victory, while denying candidate Aecio Neves a spot in the second round, UBS AG said. A candidate needs ... Read More

Bello: The political tide turns

| May 23rd, 2014 | 1 Comment »
The Economist

BRAZIL likes to think of itself as o país do futebol—the football country. So it is extraordinary that just three weeks before the World Cup kicks off in São Paulo, a recent poll found less than half of Brazilians saying they were happy to host it. True, this may change once the tournament gets going, especially if fears of transport chaos prove misplaced. Yet that poll result betrays not just public anger at the inflated cost of the tournament, but also wider grumpiness.

Although the cup will doubtless see a few protests—some have already begun—the public mood will be tested more clearly in the presidential election on October 5th. Many pundits, especially outsiders, take it for granted that Dilma Rousseff, the president, will win a second term. That is what the polls have long suggested.

Certainly, Ms Rousseff has some formidable electoral assets. She will be able to point to full employment, a ... Read More

The political tide turns

| May 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

Brazilians want change. That could deprive Dilma Rousseff of a second term

BRAZIL likes to think of itself as o país do futebol—the football country. So it is extraordinary that just three weeks before the World Cup kicks off in São Paulo, a recent poll found less than half of Brazilians saying they were happy to host it. True, this may change once the tournament gets going, especially if fears of transport chaos prove misplaced. Yet that poll result betrays not just public anger at the inflated cost of the tournament, but also wider grumpiness.

Although the cup will doubtless see a few protests—some have already begun—the public mood will be tested more clearly in the presidential election on October 5th. Many pundits, especially outsiders, take it for granted that Dilma Rousseff, the president, will win a second term. That is what the polls have long suggested.

Certainly, Ms Rousseff has some formidable electoral ... Read More

Brazil: Loss of faith

| February 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times


For weeks workers at São Paulo’s Itaquerao stadium have been clearing up the damage from a deadly construction accident in November. A giant roof girder crashed through a wall of the unfinished 68,000-seat arena, killing two labourers and casting a pall over Brazil’s preparations for this year’s football World Cup.

“People working in there say it won’t be ready in time for the World Cup,” says Paulo Arminio, who sells snacks to construction workers from a van outside the venue and who witnessed the accident.

The government and Fifa, football’s global governing body, insist the stadium will be ready for the world’s most popular sporting event, which begins in June.

But the troubles at the Itaquerao – which came just months after millions of Brazilians took to the streets to protest against poor public transport and infrastructure, ailing government services and corruption – set the stage for a difficult year for Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s ... Read More

The Most Important Alliance You’ve Never Heard Of

| February 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
The Atlantic


In Venezuela, students have been killed while protesting against the government of Nicolás Maduro, who is jailing opposition leaders and just closed a television station that dared broadcast the demonstrations. Argentina is irresponsibly racing toward a dangerous economic cliff. The Brazilian economy is in recession and 2014 will mark its fourth consecutive year of subpar growth, as the country reels from its largest capital flight in more than 10 years.

Is a decade of progress in Latin America coming to an end? For some countries, surely. But not necessarily for the entire region. Four nations are developing an initiative that could add new dynamism to Latin America, redraw the economic map of the region, and boost its connections with the rest of the world—especially Asia. It could also offer neighboring countries a pragmatic alternative to the more political groupings dominated by Brazil, Cuba, and Venezuela.

Amid all the bad news in the region, the presidents of ... Read More

Ex-Leader Says Brazil Won’t Follow China’s Low-Wage Model

| February 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


Despite Brazil’s sharp slowdown in economic growth, the country has no intention of emulating China’s low-wage model of competitiveness as a way to promote prosperity, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said Wednesday.

Mr. da Silva, one of Brazil’s most popular and powerful politicians, who presided over a remarkable expansion in the economy and a decline in poverty during his two terms in office that ended in 2011, also said the country sees its future in investing in education and promoting a technologically skilled work force.

He spoke in an interview with editors during a visit to The New York Times, where he defended the economic progress made under his administration and the policies of his successor, Dilma Rousseff, whom he mentored. Ms. Rousseff faces re-election in October, but lacks Mr. da Silva’s popularity.

Mr. da Silva, 68, popularly ... Read More

Argentina and Venezuela: Brothers in Crisis

| January 31st, 2014 | No Comments »
The National Interest


There’s a tidy parallelism to the dual economic crises currently unfolding on either end of the South American continent in Venezuela and in Argentina.

In many ways, Venezuela and Argentina represent the final two pillars of populist socialism in South America. Venezuela lays claim to one of the two great libertadores of nineteenth-century South America, Simón Bolívar, and Argentina lays claim to the second, José de San Martín. Argentina’s Juan Perón and his wife Evita were more than just national leaders—they captured the imagination of an entire continent and spawned a new leftism rooted in the workers movement of the twentieth century.

Similarly, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez reinvigorated Latin American socialism in the twenty-first century, mixed with a dose of anti-American imperialism, that also holds sway in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia and elsewhere.

Both countries are experiencing remarkably similar economic crises that have global markets worried about which country will collapse first into chaos. But ... Read More

Brazil’s oil euphoria hits reality hard

| January 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post


RIO DE JANEIRO — When fields said to hold billions of barrels of oil were discovered off the coast here, exuberant government officials said the deep-sea prize would turn Brazil into a major energy player.

More than six years later, the outlook for Brazil’s oil industry, much like the Brazilian economy itself, is more sobering. Oil production is stagnant, the state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, is hobbled by debt, and foreign oil companies are wary of investing here.

“It’s funny, a few years ago, everybody loved Brazil,” said Roger Tissot, a longtime consultant on Latin American energy. “And now it seems the love is gone.”

Brazil once saw itself as an up-and-coming oil power that would help meet the world’s demand, but it now faces a hard reality and might have to scale back its expectations, former energy officials, oil executives and advisers say.

The country’s deep-sea bonanza has suddenly become less alluring to ... Read More

Why Lula Was Better For Brazil Than Dilma

| December 11th, 2013 | 1 Comment »


Say what you want about the Workers’  Party, or the PT of Brazil, but the blue collar, quasi-illiterate, nine fingered leader of the Brazilian Workers’ Party, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was a whole lot better than his successor, Dilma Rousseff.

The market is now pretty unanimous on who to blame for Brazil’s investment woes these days, both from portfolio and corporate investors, and that lies firmly on the shoulders of the Dilma administration.

Let’s back up for a second.  In 2002, the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Sao Paulo, a hop, skip and a jump away from Avenida Paulista, hundreds of media and union workers lined up waiting for Lula to make his first speech as president elect. Cameras from Globo and SBT television lined the wall. I stood maybe thirty feet from the stage, waiting. I remember some guy who was in a machinist union talking my ear off ... Read More

Political corruption in Brazil: Jailed at last

| November 22nd, 2013 | No Comments »
The Economist

AS CHIEF of staff to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2003-05, José Dirceu was the second most powerful man in Brazil. Then claims surfaced that he and other leaders of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) were orchestrating a scheme to bribe allies in return for congressional support. Few Brazilians believed that Mr Dirceu, who resigned, would be charged, let alone convicted or jailed in a country where impunity for politicians has long been the norm. But on November 15th the supreme-court president, Joaquim Barbosa, issued warrants for the arrest of Mr Dirceu and 11 others among the 25 found guilty last year of, variously, bribery, money-laundering, misuse of public funds and conspiracy, in a case known to Brazilians as the mensalão (big monthly stipend).

Sharing Mr Dirceu’s Brasília prison cell are José Genoino and Delúbio Soares, formerly the PT’s president and treasurer respectively. Henrique Pizzolato, a former director of the state-controlled ... Read More

The Economist explains: What is Brazil’s “mensalão”?

| November 19th, 2013 | No Comments »
The Economist

NOVEMBER 15th is a big date in Brazilian history books: on that day in 1889 a military coup overthrew emperor Dom Pedro II and established Brazil as a republic. This year it was significant for another reason. Despite the national holiday the president of the supreme court, Joaquim Barbosa, stayed at his desk and wrote warrants for the arrest of 12 of those convicted last year in the so-called “mensalão” case, several of them high-profile politicians with close links to the government. Eleven spent the weekend in jail; a 12th turned out to have fled to Italy several weeks before. But just what was the mensalão?

The word, a Portuguese neologism roughly meaning “big monthly stipend” was coined to describe clandestine payments made by the Workers’ Party (PT), which won the presidency in 2003, to congressional allies in return for support for its legislative agenda. The scandal broke in 2005 when the ... Read More

Is Brazil A Fail?

| November 11th, 2013 | No Comments »


Is Brazil’s economy a fail?

Well, for starters, higher incomes and 5.4% historically low unemployment suggests nothing of the sort. Brazil’s economy is growing nearly as much as the U.S., and without much stimulus.

But there are problems, at least with perception regarding what was once Latin America’s favorite, sexiest economy.

Admittedly, Brazil had a much better than average recovery after the 2008-2009 financial crisis, with both growth and investments coming in above average against its emerging market peers, notes Tony Volpon, head of emerging markets Americas for Nomura Securities in New York.

“This was due to two factors,” he says. “First, Brazil’s sensitivity to the huge improvement seen in China that greatly boosted the price of its commodity exports and the effects of the strong counter-cyclical policy response executed in 2009, with one eye fixed on the 2010 presidential elections.”

China spent trillions on stimulus when the U.S. economy crashed, driving up demand for Brazil’s key commodities, namely ... Read More

Brazil and Venezuela: The Discrete Fallout of Two Strategic Partners

| November 8th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
PanAm Post


Since 2003, when Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office as president of Brazil, and under his successor Dilma Rousseff, commercial and diplomatic relations with Chavista Venezuela have been positive and close. The pair have been vital strategic partners, despite the undeniable political differences between both their governments.

These differences can be seen clearly in their foreign policies. In contrast with the ones implemented by Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, marked by their ideological bias, those favored by Lula and Rousseff have been more pragmatic; they are mainly based on economic interests and their traditional geo-strategic objective, to consolidate themselves as a regional and global power.

This explains Brazil’s friendly but conditional stance towards Venezuela during the Chavista regime. In fact, Brazilians have always refused to join the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA). It also explains why their bilateral relations, which had a golden era during Lula da Silva’s ... Read More

Make Brazil a Higher Priority

| November 5th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Article appeared in The Weekly Standard


When Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff canceled her October 23 White House state dinner, she created yet another foreign-policy embarrassment for the Obama administration. Rousseff’s visit, which was announced back in May, was supposed to be an opportunity for highlighting a new era of strategic cooperation between the Western Hemisphere’s two largest countries. It would have been the first state visit by a Brazilian leader since Bill Clinton hosted Fernando Henrique Cardoso in April 1995.

The bigger deal, however, is Obama’s persistent failure to make the U.S.-Brazil relationship a top priority. “No one doubts that forging a closer relationship between the United States and rising power Brazil makes good strategic sense,” writes former National Interest editor Nikolas Gvosdev, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College. “Yet the Obama administration seemingly can never find the time to devote the energy and political capital needed to get the process underway.”

As journalist Geoff Dyer points out, Obama has established close relationships ... Read More

Why the NSA Watches Brazil

| November 4th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal


European leaders took great umbrage when it was revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency has been spying on their continent and on them. They claimed to be shocked, though it has since become apparent that most of the outcry was pure theater.

Yet nowhere is the feigned outrage about the NSA more disingenuous than in Brazil, which has also been a target of the spying. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff charges that the snooping is a human-rights violation. She proposes that the U.N. adopt “a leading role” in regulating the Internet. Don’t laugh.

At least European countries can make the case that they are U.S. allies. But Brazil’s best friends under the Workers’ Party of Ms. Rousseff and her predecessor, Lula da Silva, are Cuba, Iran and Venezuela. If U.S. spooks are not paying attention to Brazil, they’re not paying attention.

Last week the rhetoric coming from Europe softened. Leaders began to ask ... Read More

Brazil’s Next Steps

| October 9th, 2013 | No Comments »
The New York Times

After a decade of fast growth and rising incomes, Brazil has hit a rough patch that is testing its government’s ability to manage the economy and satisfy the growing aspirations of its people. President Dilma Rousseff, who faces elections next year, needs to push through policy reforms and public investment projects to revive growth and bring inflation under control.

Last year, Brazil’s economy grew only 0.9 percent because private investment slowed down. Analysts expect the growth rate to recover to 2.5 percent this year, but that is still far slower than the 7.5 percent the country achieved in 2010.

In June, tens of thousands of people joined street protests that were prompted by an increase in public-transit fares but quickly became a way for Brazilians to air broader grievances about the rising cost of living, weak infrastructure, political corruption and government spending on big sporting events like the 2014 World Cup. In response to ... Read More

Bill Comes Due for Brazil’s Middle Class

| October 9th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal


SÃO PAULO, Brazil—Like millions of poor people during Brazil’s decadelong boom, Odete Meira da Silva took out loans to speed her rise to the middle class. The single mom bought a computer, a flat-screen TV and started building a concrete home on the rough southern edge of this sprawling city.

Now, her spending spree is over. The 56-year-old small-business owner is today concerned with a less glamorous side of middle-class life: paying off debt. After her ballooning credit-card bills exceeded what she could afford, she cut back on everything and stopped home construction. On a recent day, a bare concrete staircase rose from her living room to an unfinished second floor. It is a reminder of her own halfway climb up Brazil’s economic ladder.

“I still plan to finish the house, but it will have to be done bit by bit, maybe in three more years,” she ... Read More

Has Brazil blown it?

| September 27th, 2013 | No Comments »
The Economist

FOUR years ago this newspaper put on its cover a picture of the statue of Christ the Redeemer ascending like a rocket from Rio de Janeiro’s Corcovado mountain, under the rubric “Brazil takes off”. The economy, having stabilised under Fernando Henrique Cardoso in the mid-1990s, accelerated under Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the early 2000s. It barely stumbled after the Lehman collapse in 2008 and in 2010 grew by 7.5%, its strongest performance in a quarter-century. To add to the magic, Brazil was awarded both next year’s football World Cup and the summer 2016 Olympics. On the strength of all that, Lula persuaded voters in the same year to choose as president his technocratic protégée, Dilma Rousseff.

Since then the country has come back down to earth with a bump. In 2012 the economy grew by 0.9%. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in June in the biggest protests ... Read More

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