May 20, 2013
Deepanshu Bagchee – CNBC, 05/20/2013
Rumors that Brazil’s social security fund called Bolsa Familia was to be cancelled led thousands of people to rush to withdraw money from a Brazilian bank over the weekend.
Customers lined up at ATMs at dozens of bank branches of Caixa Economica Federal, a government-owned bank, which pays the social security subsidy on Saturday and Sunday.
“The bank branches themselves aren’t open on Saturdays. What happened is that once the rumor gained momentum, people flocked down to their local branches to try to withdraw money from the ATMs,” Rafael Carregal, a journalist at Brazil’s main TV network Globo told CNBC.
May 20, 2013
Raymond Colitt – Bloomberg, 05/20/2013
Brazil’s economy will grow below 3 percent in 2013, economists predicted for the first time in a central bank survey of about 100 analysts published today.
Latin America’s largest economy will grow 2.98 percent this year, down from the previous week’s projection of 3 percent. It would be the first time in a decade that Brazil grows below 3 percent for three consecutive years.
Brazil’s economy has struggled to recover from last year’s expansion of 0.9 percent as accelerating inflation undermines consumer demand. While economists raised their 12-month inflation forecast to 5.64 percent from 5.57 percent, they maintained their projection for inflation this year and next at 5.8 percent, according to the survey.
May 20, 2013
John W. Miller – The Wall Street Journal, 05/19/2013
One key to controlling the wage inflation that bedevils mining companies is finding a captive labor force that’s willing to be trained, such as the one in this remote town, where cows outnumber residents almost two to one.
Nineteen-year-old Augusto Alonso Silva is eager to earn $600 a month as an industrial mechanic at an Anglo American AAL.LN -1.85% PLC iron-ore mine here. The pay is about half what mining wages are elsewhere in Brazil, but Mr. Silva says it is twice as much as he dreamed of earning as a soldier. “Now I have a different dream,” says the 19-year-old, during a break in a basic engineering class.
While rising labor costs have become almost routine for global mining firms—a drill operator in Australia can earn $200,000 a year and a truck driver in Chile $70,000—locals here have been willing to take lower-level jobs such as operating a conveyor belt or maintaining machines for less than $10,000 a year.
May 16, 2013
Erin Brodwin – Scientific American, 05/15/2013
The Amazon Basin is the epicenter of the world’s hydropower plants—the same gushing rains that give the region its lush foliage make it a prime destination for developers seeking to capitalize on this allegedly renewable energy source. But the long-term sustainability of these projects, which use the natural flow of water to generate electricity, is now under scrutiny.
A new study of the Belo Monte Dam, one of the world’s largest hydropower energy complexes currently under construction on the Xingu River in the eastern region of the basin, found that large-scale deforestation in the Amazon poses a significant threat to a dam’s energy-generating potential.
Although many studies have examined the impacts of deforestation on the immediate vicinity of hydropower projects, less attention has been paid to its effects on a regional scale. In fact, earlier studies found that a loss of trees within the water basin of hydropower sites increased the energy-generating capacity of the dam in the short-term, because less trees were available to suck water from the ground and export it outside the watershed in a process known as evapotranspiration.
May 15, 2013
Rodrigo Orihuela, Juan Pablo Spinetto – Bloomberg, 05/14/2013
BP Plc (BP/) and Total SA (FP), Europe’s biggest oil companies after Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), won exploration rights in the Amazon basin as Brazil’s first oil auction in five years attracts a record level of bids.
Total, based in Paris, gained exploration access to operate five blocks at the Foz do Amazonas basin in northern Brazil together with partners BP and Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the oil regulator said today. London-based BP won an additional license to operate a block at the same basin in partnership with Petrobras, as the state-controlled oil company is known.
Brazil, home to the largest crude discovery in the Americas in more than 30 years, is holding its first oil exploration round since 2008, attracting more than 60 prospective bidders for a total of 289 blocks in 11 basins. The country is set to break the $1.1 billion record in auctioning licenses, according to Joao Carlos de Luca, the head of the Brazilian Oil Institute.
May 15, 2013
AP/ABC News, 05/15/2013
A judge has suspended a preliminary order that blocked the signing of a deal giving a multinational consortium the right to run Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium for 35 years.
Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht, Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment company AEG and the sports and entertainment company IMX, which is owned by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, won the contract Thursday.
Then a local judge ruled that the deal couldn’t be finalized ahead of a decision on the legality of the privatization process.
May 14, 2013
Brazil’s deputy Finance Minister Nelson Barbosa, who helped design some of the government’s flagship economic projects, has handed in his resignation for personal reasons and will leave the post in June, the ministry said on Monday.
Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported his departure over the weekend, citing loss of influence within President Dilma Rousseff’s government as the reason for his resignation.
Folha said Barbosa, once a close advisor to Rousseff, had lost access to the president with the rise of Treasury Secretary Arno Agustin, who is expected to take his place as the ministry’s executive secretary.
May 14, 2013
German President Joachim Gauck is in Brazil seeking to strengthen trade ties with a key German partner; he and President Dilma Rousseff have officially opened a special Germany-themed year in Brazil.
German President Joachim Gauck and Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff started Brazil’s “Deutschland-Jahr” year-long schedule that incorporates as many as 400 cultural, economic and scientific appointments in the coming months.
Gauck and Rousseff appeared at the opening of a German-Brazilian trade conference in Sao Paolo late on Monday.
The German president praised long-standing and stable bilateral trade ties. Gauck said that Volkswagen’s partnership with Brazil had proved so successful over the years that many in Brazil considered VW a “domestic legacy brand.” He also lamented that too few Germans knew that author Thomas Mann should dedicate “his artistic streak to his mother who was born in Brazil.”
May 14, 2013
Bruce Kennedy – MSN Money, 05/14/2013
Critics have warned that globalization comes with a price. And it’s not just low-wage workers in far-off places likeBangladesh who often pay that price in human lives. It also appears that auto buyers in South America’s largest economy are paying a deadly toll.
Brazil is one of the BRICs, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China, the international economies that have been booming in recent years while bringing hundreds of millions of their citizens out of poverty.
But The Associated Press released a startling report over the weekend outlining how auto manufacturers in Brazil, including European companies and U.S. makers such as Ford (F +0.93%) and General Motors (GM +1.29%) — at facilities like GM’s Sao Caetano plant (pictured) — are producing vehicles that are apparently unsafe at any speed.
May 6, 2013
The Economist, 05/04/2013
The biggest building site in Brazil is neither in the concrete jungle of São Paulo nor in beachside Rio de Janeiro, which is being revamped to host the 2016 Olympics. It lies 3,000km (1,900 miles) north in the state of Pará, deep in the Amazon basin. Some 20,000 labourers are working around the clock at Belo Monte on the Xingu river, the biggest hydropower plant under construction anywhere. When complete, its installed capacity, or theoretical maximum output, of 11,233MW will make it the world’s third-largest, behind China’s Three Gorges and Itaipu, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay.
Everything about Belo Monte is outsized, from the budget (28.9 billion reais, or $14.4 billion), to the earthworks—a Panama Canal-worth of soil and rock is being excavated—to the controversy surrounding it. In 2008 a public hearing in Altamira, the nearest town, saw a government engineer cut with a machete. In 2010 court orders threatened to stop the auction for the project. The private-sector bidders pulled out a week before. When officials from Norte Energia, the winning consortium of state-controlled firms and pension funds, left the auction room, they were greeted by protesters—and three tonnes of pig muck.
Since then construction has twice been halted briefly by legal challenges. Greens and Amerindians often stage protests. Xingu Vivo (“Living Xingu”), an anti-Belo Monte campaign group, displays notes from supporters all over the world in its Altamira office. James Cameron, a Hollywood film-maker, has chimed in to compare Brazil’s dam-builders to the villains in “Avatar”, one of his blockbusters.