September 30, 2013
The Economist, 09/29/2013
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.
June 20, 2013
Carlos Pio – The New York Times, 06/19/2013
The world has been optimistic about Brazil for the past decade. Productivity has risen as trade has been liberalized, state-owned companies have been sold and many industries deregulated. Hyperinflation has been controlled and the exchange rate has been floated. Social policies, called conditional cash transfers, have targeted the poor. And commodity exports to China soared. The economy grew stronger and many became richer.
But the country has one of the highest levels of social inequality in the world. Many of the rich live in bubbles of prosperity, like Brasilia and beachfront avenues in major cities. The poor are almost invisible, forgotten in rural areas or marginalized in urban slums.
And the policies that led to Brazil’s growth have been undermined since the 2003 inauguration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who, along with all the left-wing parties, opposed those policies while out of power. On the positive side, Lula increased the scope of “bolsa família” (the umbrella name for all cash-transfer benefits) until it reached 12 million families. But he slowly discontinued the programs that had produced economic gains — a process that accelerated under President Dilma Rousseff, who took office in 2011.
May 21, 2013
Yahoo News, Reuters, 5/20/2013
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on Monday she ordered the Federal Police to investigate the source of a rumor that sent thousands of poor Brazilians running to state bank branches seeking payment of a monthly family stipend.
A rumor that payments of the Bolsa Familia program would be ended led crowds to line up over the weekend at branches of the Caixa Economica Federalgovernment bank to get their money. The rumor spread by word of mouth and cellphone text messages.
Angry beneficiaries smashed glass doors and automatic teller machines in some branches on Saturday in a surprising outburst that reminded Brazilians of chaotic scenes in crowded banks during financial crises two decades ago before Brazil stabilized its economy.
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.