Brazil’s Exhausting Election

October 30, 2014

Vanessa Barbara – The New York Times, 10/30/2014

It was a typical election in Brazil. Jesus and Osama bin Laden were running for Congress, as well as Barack Obama, Bob Marley, Santa Claus and Battman (with two Ts). The self-styled “Hamburger Face” unfortunately wasn’t elected, nor was a candidate just called Congresswoman. (When the results were released, it turned out she didn’t get a single vote — not even her own.) But a famous clown named Tiririca won a second term in the House, after starring in a kitschy TV campaign. Next year, 35 percent of our members of Congress will be millionaires.

In São Paulo, which is proving to be more conservative than most of Brazil, the number of legislators in the so-called Bullet Caucus will increase by 30 percent. They are usually former military police officers, with a right-wing posture and a belligerent discourse; they stand for lowering the age at which teenagers can be tried as adults (currently 18); for increasing police repression; and against gun control. Their mottos are: “the only good thief is a dead thief” and “human rights are for right humans.”

The second-most-voted-for congressman in my state was an evangelical Christian ex-cop who recently produced his own comic book. In 32 pages, he describes “two brand-new police cases.” In one, an angel supposedly helped him during a chase so he could catch two fugitives. (In real life, however, three suspects were killed by the police.) After the elections, he urged independence for the wealthiest states from the poorest ones that “preferred charity over work.”

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Dilma Rousseff has a second chance to invigorate Brazil’s foreign policy

October 30, 2014

Bianca Suyama and Gonzalo Berrón – The Guardian, 10/30/2014

After an election campaign that was more unpredictable and nerve-wracking than Brazil’s popular soap operas, President Dilma Rousseff will lead the country for another four years.

Brazil’s government has defined its foreign policy as “active and prominent”. This is a legacy of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who wanted to lead Brazil towards greater autonomy and relevance in the global order. He wanted Brazil to contribute to a more democratic and multipolar world; diversify its partnerships – with particular focus on countries in the global south and the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa); and promote South American integration.

However, these initiatives were not without their tensions and contradictions. Rousseff appeared to give less priority to foreign policy and some of the achievements of Lula’s administration stagnated under her. What should she focus on now the election is out of the way?

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Can Brazil’s Socialist Iron Lady Defy The Markets?

October 29, 2014

John Cassidy – The New Yorker, 10/28/2014

I know, I know, there’s a lot going on: Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie are busy making jackasses of themselves; the midterms are next week; Rex Ryan’s Jets are imploding. I wouldn’t blame you if you overlooked the news that Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s socialist “Iron Lady,” was reëlected as the President of the world’s fifth most populous country. From what I saw, the broadcast networks barely covered it. Monday’s Times relegated the story to an inside page.

No surprise there, you might say. It’s nearly five thousand miles from New York to São Paulo, and Americans got their fill of Brazil during the World Cup. Who cares that Rousseff came from behind in the polls to defeat her opponent, Aécio Neves? Does it really matter to people outside Brazil?

It does, for at least two reasons. First, Rousseff’s victory has significant implications for the world’s financial markets. And, second, it extends Brazil’s decade-long effort to reduce poverty and inequality, which, despite great skepticism among the country’s business community (and free-market economists), has gone some ways towards spreading the wealth in what has long been one of the world’s most inegalitarian countries.

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Brazil falls nine positions in ranking of gender equality [PORTUGUESE]

October 29, 2014

BBC Brasil, 10/28/2014

Brazil fell nine positions in gender equality rankings released by the “Global Economic Forum,” a group known for their meetings in Davos, Switzerland. The country now appears at 71st on the list, when it used to be 62nd.

The organization evaluated the differences between men and women in terms of health, education, economy, and political indicators in 142 countries. Iceland ranks first, followed by other Nordic countries.

Despite having kept equal health and education levels for both men and women, Brazil fell in the rankings that measure female participation in the economy and politics. The largest drop occurred in the evaluations that considered wages and female participation and leadership in the labor market.

Read more [in PORTUGUESE]…


Hopes for Rebound in Brazil Rest With Dilma Rousseff, Re-elected President

October 28, 2014

Dan Horch – The New York Times, 10/27/2014

Business leaders and market strategists are hoping that Brazil, one of the world’s largest economies, can regain its footing in the wake of the re-election of Dilma Rousseff as president.

After Ms. Rousseff’s victory, markets, as expected, swooned on Monday. Brazil’s currency, the real, fell 2.7 percent against the dollar, while the stock market fell 2.8 percent, largely in reaction to the election. For the year, the Brazilian markets have been stuck in a malaise, down 2 percent this year, after a slide of 15.5 percent in 2013.

Since Ms. Rousseff took office in January 2011, the stock market has fallen 27 percent. Taking the currency’s depreciation into account, the loss for a foreign investor, in dollar terms, has been nearly 50 percent.

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The Market Votes on Brazil

October 28, 2014

The Wall Street Journal, 10/27/2014

Brazilians had their democratic say on Sunday, voting narrowly to re-elect President Dilma Rousseff of the left-leaning Workers’ Party to another four-year term. On Monday the world voted on Brazil’s choice, and this time the result was a resounding no confidence.

Brazil’s currency, the real, fell almost 2% and was trading at about 2.52 against the dollar at the end of Monday, close to its lowest point in a decade. Brazil’s main stock market index was down 2.8% to its lowest close in six months. Those markets had rallied some in the last few weeks as challenger Aécio Neves had come close to Ms. Rousseff in the polls. So the Monday selloff was a case of investors pricing in the discount of continuing bad economic policy. A Brazil credit downgrade to “junk” status is likely on present trend.

Brazil is proof that democracy is no guarantee of prosperity. A country rich in resources and people has managed to squander both with an overweening state that buys votes via income redistribution and price controls on gasoline that force losses on producers. Those are Third World policy blunders in a country that fancies itself a First World aspirant. This explains Brazil’s consistent economic underperformance (0.5% growth this year, following 2.5% in 2013) and 6.75% inflation rate.

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Dilma Rousseff Prevails in Campaign Marred by Violence

October 28, 2014

Belén Marty – Pan AM Post, 10/28/2014

On Sunday evening, the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court officially declared President Dilma Rousseff the winner of a highly contested presidential election. Rousseff obtained 51.64 percent of the vote in the final runoff, defeating opposition leader Aécio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party. This means the Workers’ Party (PT) have secured their fourth consecutivevictory for Brazil’s highest office, and will remain in power until at least 2019.

As the campaign slogan “One, two, three, Dilma once again” rang throughout the PT headquarters in San Paulo, Rousseff took the stage on Sunday to celebrate her narrow victory. With a difference of just 3.4 million of votes, out of a total of 142.8 million people eligible to vote, Rousseff reaffirmed her commitment to dialogue and said she does not believe the election has divided the country.

“This president before you is open to dialogue, and this is the first promise I make in my second term,” said the president. Rousseff addressed concerns over the nation’s economy and promised the crowd of supporters in attendance to put the country back on track: “My friends, every election has to be seen as a peaceful and secure form of change for a country. Every election is a form of change, especially for us who live in one of the largest democracies in the world.”

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