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 Rousseff looks weak, but so do her election rivals

April 16, 2014

Brian Winter – Reuters, 4/16/2014

With Brazil’s economy struggling, a scandal at its state-run oil company and nearly three-quarters of voters saying they want change from their government, President Dilma Rousseff looks vulnerable in her bid for re-election this October.

But for her to lose, somebody else has to win. And her two main rivals have big, potentially fatal flaws of their own.

Senator Aecio Neves and former governor Eduardo Campos, who are both running on centrist, pro-business platforms, have failed to make significant headway in polls and still badly trail the left-leaning Rousseff despite her recent struggles.

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Rio’s BRT Transcarioca running 46% over budget

April 15, 2014

Claire Rivé – The Rio Times, 4/8/2014

 Delays and design changes on the Transcarioca Highway connecting Galeão International Airport to Barra da Tijuca have led to the project running 46 percent over budget. The initial cost of the Transcarioca was estimated at R$1.3 billion, but after numerous delays, expenditure now stands at R$1.9 billion according to officials.

The inflated figure does not include an additional R$200 million spent on the expropriation of property required around the work site during construction between 2010 and 2013.

One of the main factors contributing to the increased cost of theTranscarioca project was the redesign of the cable-stayed bridge connecting the airport to the highway. The selection of the project’s design was based on the conceptual functionality of the proposals and the winning bid included a 120 meter mast in the center of the bridge.

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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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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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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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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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