Brazil at a crossroads, but investors optimistic

April 16, 2014

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 4/15/2014

In more ways than one, Brazilians have had it.This is a good thing for all involved.

What they have “had it” with is quite different than what Americans usually complain about.  They’re not ticked off at the culture, or angry that politicians are giving working class people too many rights. They have had it with what might seem quite boring if not wholly lacking in daily entertainment value. They’ve had it with taxes and inflation. (If only they had Fox News to rile them up, but I digress…)

On the street, average Brazilians are tired of paying into a federal and state tax system and getting nothing in return.  This was manifested in the protests that began in June 2013, which started over a $0.05 bus fare hike and raged into complaints about the government finding money for soccer stadiums but never finding it for social services.  Take a look at a Brazilian’s cell phone bill and half of it will be taxes. Gasoline prices are over $5 a gallon, mainly due to taxes.

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Brazil’s star, Petrbras, is hobbled by scandal and stagnation

April 16, 2014

Simon Romero & Landon Thomas Jr – The New York Times, 4/15/2014

No company has embodied Brazil’s rise like the oil giant Petrobras.

Bolstered by some of this century’s largest oil discoveries, Petrobras soared into the top ranks of global energy producers. Executives at the state-controlled company boasted that it could even outstrip Apple as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company. Political leaders here said Brazil was on the cusp of energy independence.

Now Petrobras is coming to symbolize something else entirely: the disarray afflicting Brazil’s sluggish economy and the reassessment of growth prospects in emerging markets around the world.

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BNDES vows $1.35 billion to bolster Brazil buyout sector

April 15, 2014

Reuters, 4/15/2014

Brazil’s state development bank BNDES plans to spend up to 3 billion reais ($1.35 billion) buying stakes in buyout investment vehicles and share offerings of mid-sized companies, to help foster new funding sources in local capitalmarkets, Valor Econômico newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The program, which is expected to last two years, will be carried out by BNDES’s investment holding company BNDESPar, Julio Ramundo, a senior vice president at BNDES, told Valor in an interview.

Under the plan, BNDESPar could buy no more than a 40 percent stake in start-ups through initial public offerings whose proceeds go entirely to the company, Valor reported.

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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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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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Drought in Brazil drives the price of coffee beans to a record high

April 10, 2014

Rupert Neate – The Guardian, 4/10/2014

Coffee bean prices have hit their highest level in more than two years amid fears that droughts in Brazil could lead to a global shortage of coffee. The price of arabica beans – the most popular variety – has risen by 20% this week and hit $2.07 (£1.23) per lb on Thursday, the highest since February 2012. So far this year, the price of arabica beans, originally indigenous to Ethiopia and favoured by Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffè Nero, has risen by 70%.

The price was driven higher on Thursday by further dry weather forecasts forBrazil – the world’s biggest producer, which has already experienced its worst droughts in decades. Analyst expect global demand to be around 146m bags this year, outstripping supply by more than 7m bags, and warned that prices could hit $3 per lb.

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Brazil’s largest city may ration water this year, utility says

April 9, 2014

Paulo Whitaker – Reuters, 4/9/2014

Sao Paulo may have to ration water this year if reservoir levels are not replenished, Brazil’s largest water and sewage utility said, an increasing possibility as the southeast region heads into its dry season.

Worries of a water shortage in the metropolis of some 20 million that will host the soccer World Cup opening match on June 12 have increased amid dry weather this week, and the city’s main source of water, the Cantareira reservoir, was at just 12.7 percent of its capacity as of Wednesday.

Economists worry that water rationing or shortages could take a toll on Brazil’s fragileeconomy, which is expected to grow just 2 percent this year, and a shortage in Brazil’sbusiness hub would add to the challenges facing President Dilma Rousseff, who is expected to be re-elected in October.

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