Brazil inflation: on the up again

September 19, 2014

Jonathan Wheatley – Financial Times, 9/19/2014

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.

Inflation is running at its fastest rate in more than a year, just as the campaign for elections on October 5 heats up. Until recently, voters seem to have paid little attention to Brazil’s weakening economy, which was in recession in the first half of this year. But a wave of bad economic data may have contributed to the recent poor performance in opinion polls of Dilma Rousseff, hoping to be re-elected to the presidency, as voters make the connection between economic mismanagement and the woeful standard of Brazil’s public services, which brought thousands of protesters onto the streets last year.

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Arminio Fraga offers Brazil an orthodox path

September 19, 2014

Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 9/17/2014

Arminio Fraga’s assessment of what is wrong with Brazil explains why he is the market’s choice to be finance minister after next month’s election.

“There`s a clear feeling the government is lost, it has picked the wrong model,” Mr Fraga says in an interview at his office in Leblon, Rio de Janeiro, almost within hearing distance of the Atlantic waves crashing on to the city’s beaches a block or two away.

Mr Fraga advocates a return to economic orthodoxy. A former managing director with financier George Soros and Brazilian central bank president, who co-founded his own hedge fund Gavea Investimentos before selling it to JPMorgan, Mr Fraga is one of Brazil`s most respected economists. He is seen as the country’s version of Raghuram Rajan, the University of Chicago economist who became India’s central bank governor last year.

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Brazil’s Real Drops to Seven-Month Low as Silva’s Support Falls

September 19, 2014

Paula Sambo – Bloomberg, 9/19/2014

Brazil’s real fell to a seven-month low as a voter poll showed a drop in voter support for Marina Silva as President Dilma Rousseff defended her economic and fiscal policies before the October election.

The real dropped 0.4 percent to 2.3732 per U.S. dollar at 2:36 p.m. in Sao Paulo, extending this week’s decline to 1.5 percent, the biggest among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Swap rates, a gauge of expectations for changes in borrowing costs, increased seven basis points, or 0.07 percentage point, to 11.70 percent on the contract due in January 2016 as a report showed inflation accelerated. They were up nine basis points since Sept. 12.

“Markets are not pleased with Rousseff gaining support,” Joao Paulo de Gracia Correa, a trader at Correparti Corretora de Cambio in Curitiba, Brazil, said in a telephone interview.

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Brazil’s largest company, Petrobras, accused of political kickbacks

September 18, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 09/17/2014

The brutalist headquarters of South America’s biggest company, Petrobras, offers a harsh riposte to those who try to romanticise Brazil as a land of golden beaches and endless forest. This week, the concrete edifice in central Rio de Janeiro was the focus of a pro-oil rally by thousands of petrochemical workers amid a presidential election debate dominated by how to manage the nation’s vast fossil fuel reserves.

It is a question that has opened up the biggest gap between President Dilma Rousseff, an old industry champion of the Workers Party, and her main challenger Marina Silva, a former environment minister who has pledged to shift priorities towards alternatives energies like wind, solar and ethanol.

This is more than just a Brazilian rerun of George Bush and Big Oil versus Al Gore and climate concern, because state-run Petrobras is no ordinary company and – with the company also mired in a massive corruption scandal – this is no ordinary time.

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Brazil announces new tax breaks for business

September 16, 2014

EFE – Fox News Latino, 09/15/2014

Finance Minister Guido Mantega presented here Monday a package of tax measures aimed at stimulating Brazil’s economy less than a month ahead of the presidential election.

“We want to make Brazilian industry more competitive and reduce juridical insecurity,” he said after meeting in Sao Paulo with representatives of the powerful CNI business confederation.

The changes include extending to all industries a reduction in the rate of tax on overseas profits from 34 percent to 26 percent. Until now, that benefit has been available only to firms in construction, services, food processing and the beverage sector.

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Silva Aide Outlines Plan to Lure More Investors to Brazil

September 15, 2014

Presidential candidate Marina Silva wants to make Brazil alluring to investors again by improving public finances and giving the central bank more independence, her campaign coordinators said Monday.

Mauricio Rands, one of Ms. Silva’s main economic advisers, said the candidate will adopt “rigorous” fiscal policy and refrain from “putting makeup on public finances.” Critics accuse current President Dilma Rousseff’s administration of using questionable accounting procedures and one-off revenue sources, such as a tax amnesty program last year, to meet its fiscal targets.

Speaking at an event at the U.S.-Brazil Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Rands also highlighted Ms. Silva’s proposal to pass a law creating an independent central bank. The credibility of the Central Bank of Brazil, which lacks the institutional autonomy that most developed countries enjoy, has been questioned by some economists in recent years for letting inflation run too high and for intervening in the currency market.

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