Brazil socialist kicks off presidential campaign

April 15, 2014

Paulo Trevisani – The Wall Street Journal, 4/14/2014

Socialist politician Eduardo Campos on Monday kicked off his outsider tilt at becoming Brazil’s next president, the first salvo in a campaign that will likely focus on the economy as a potential weakness for incumbent President Dilma Rousseff.

Mr. Campos, who recently stepped down as governor of Pernambuco state in northeastern Brazil, confirmed he will head the ticket for the Brazilian Socialist Party, or PSB, while former environment minister Marina Silva will be his vice presidential running mate.

“Brazil needs to discuss the economy. We can’t grow at just 1%. We still have too much inequality,” Mr. Campos told a crowd of around 700 supporters at a hotel in the capital of this nation of 200 million people.

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Deep in Brazil’s jungle, host city poses wild challenge for World Cup

April 14, 2014

Vincent Bevins – The Los Angeles Times, 4/12/2014

In the 1960s, Brazil’s military rulers decided they had to populate the Amazon or risk losing control over the vast, isolated region. So they granted special tax breaks to Manaus, reviving a faded rubber-baron town in the middle of the jungle.

Manaus is still governed by special rules that keep it alive as a manufacturing center, though it remains connected to the rest of Brazil only by boat or plane. The city, which could easily retreat back into the jungle if not for government support, got another boost when it was selected as the only Amazonian site to be a host for the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament.

But Manaus’ special problems will also be on full display during the games. After controversial and even fatal preparations here, residents are nervously hoping their city of nearly 2 million can pull off the event while taking advantage of the global spotlight.

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In Brazil, usual Olympics worry with unusual validity

April 14, 2014

Christopher Clarey – The New York Times, 4/11/2014

The smash-hit London Olympics were nearing a close in August 2012, and I found myself in an elevator at the main news media center with a small delegation of observers from the next Summer Games, in Rio de Janeiro.

They looked and sounded worried. One of them said, “I really hope that everyone does not expect Rio to be better than this.”

In truth, almost everyone does not. Neither Brazil nor any of its neighbors have staged an Olympics, and it was clear that Rio, despite its high profile and abundant charms, was going to face organizational challenges of a higher magnitude. The trade-off, however, seemed worth it to bring the Games to new territory.

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Fitch reaffirms Brazil’s credit worthiness

April 14, 2014

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes Magazine, 4/14/2014

Unlike the credit analysts at Standard & Poor’s, Fitch believes Brazil’s still BBB investment grade.  The rating agency reaffirmed Brazil’s sovereign credit rating on Monday.

“The deterioration in some of Brazil’s sovereign credit fundamentals so far is within the tolerance of the ‘BBB’ rating and the authorities have engaged in policy corrections that should help reduce imbalances,” Fitch said in a press release today.

Last month, Standard & Poor’s reduced Brazil’s credit rating to BBB-, which is the final notch on its investment grade scale.  Days later, they cut the outlook and credit rating for over two dozen Brazilian financial institutions.

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Grand visions fizzle in Brazil

April 14, 2014

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 4/12/2014

Brazil plowed billions of dollars into building a railroad across arid backlands, only for the long-delayed project to fall prey to metal scavengers. Curvaceous new public buildings designed by the famed architect Oscar Niemeyer were abandoned right after being constructed. There was even an ill-fated U.F.O. museum built with federal funds. Its skeletal remains now sit like a lost ship among the weeds.

As Brazil sprints to get ready for the World Cup in June, it has run up against a catalog of delays, some caused by deadly construction accidents at stadiums, and cost overruns. It is building bus and rail systems for spectators that will not be finished until long after the games are done.

But the World Cup projects are just a part of a bigger national problem casting a pall over Brazil’s grand ambitions: an array of lavish projects conceived when economic growth was surging that now stand abandoned, stalled or wildly over budget.

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13 banks to provide loan for Brazil’s electric power industry

April 10, 2014

Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 4/9/2014

A group of 13 banks will provide a loan worth 11.2 billion Brazilian reais ($5.1 billion) for the electric power industry, Brazil’s financial ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The money will be loaned to the operator of the wholesale power market, known as the CCEE. The CCEE will in turn loan money to power companies, and the banks would then be repaid directly starting next year with money generated through increases in electric power utility bills.

The syndicate will be composed of Banco Bradesco (BBD), Itau Unibanco (ITUB), Banco Santander (BSBR), BTG Pactual, Citibank (C), J.P. Morgan (JPM), HSBC (HSBC, HSBA.LN), Banco Votorantim, Credit Suisse (CS, CSGN.VX), Bank of America (BAC), Goldman Sachs (GS), Banco do Brasil (BDORY) and Caixa Economica Federal.

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Central Banker Tombini says Brazil well-prepared for QE pullback

April 10, 2014

Pedro Nicolaci da Costa – Wall Street Journal, 4/10/2014

Brazil has built up enough domestic buffers against rapid shifts in capital flows to allow it to withstand a pullback from unconventional interest rate policy in the world’s largest economies, Central Bank Governor Alexandre Tombini said.

Mr. Tombini agreed in part with Indian central bank chief Raguram Rajan, who argued during a Brookings Institution speech that aggressive monetary easing in advanced economies had made life harder for developing countries.

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Fitch wants Brazil’s next government to adjust policies

April 10, 2014

Walter Brandimarte – Reuters, 4/10/2014

Fitch Ratings on Thursday said it expects Brazil’s next government to support the country’s credit rating by making policy adjustments to improve its fiscal performance and boost investor confidence.

In a conference call with investors, Fitch analyst Shelly Shetty said low growth rates and a deterioration in fiscal accounts are the firm’s main concern about Brazil, which remains rated at BBB with a stable outlook.

Her remarks suggest Fitch is willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the next Brazilian president, to be elected in October. They also may help to allay fears Brazil would soon suffer another sovereign downgrade, following Standard & Poor’s decision to cut the country’s rating to near junk level last month.

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Brazil’s finance minister rejects criticism of World Cup, economy

April 10, 2014

Luciana Magalhaes & Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 4/9/2014

Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega blasted critics of his country’s World Cup preparations and vowed that Brazil’s economy would revive from its lethargy, for which he mainly blamed outside forces.

“I believe that the Cup is being politicized,” Mr. Mantega said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in New York before attending a gathering of the International Monetary Fund. “For Brazil to host the Cup, it needs to meet FIFA’s requirements for a certain numbers of stadiums and seats, and that is being done,” he said, referring to the world soccer governing body.

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