US wheat exporters brace for drop in Brazil orders

August 19, 2014

Agrimoney, 8/19/2014

North American wheat exporters are preparing for a tumble in shipments to Brazil after the country reinstated a tariff on wheat bought in from countries outside South America, amid hopes of a bumper domestic crop.

Brazil’s foreign trade assembly, Camex, has reinstated a 10% tariff on wheat imports from outside the Mercosur trading zone, ditching a concession introduced last year after a poor domestic harvest, and a weak crop too in Argentina, the default origin of Brazilian buy-ins.

The move will likely call time on a upswell in Brazilian imports from North America, and in particular the US, which Brazil has turned to thanks to the shortfalls in local supplies.

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Rio’s Slums to Jacob’s Pillow

August 11, 2014

Marina Harss – The New York Times, 8/9/2014

As the protests surrounding the World Cup this summer underscored, Brazil is a complex country, blessed with gorgeous beaches and breathtaking landscapes, bursting with music, but also plagued by poverty and violence. Extremes of beauty and ugliness rub shoulders; they are intertwined in the national character. This tension is precisely what the choreographer Sonia Destri Lie, founder of the contemporary hip-hop troupe Companhia Urbana de Dança, strives to capture in her work. The company will appear at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass., from Wednesday to Saturday.

Back in the 1970s, when Ms. Destri was growing up in the comfortable Rio suburb of Bangu, she did not yet know this would be her life’s work. She studied ballet and contemporary dance and went on to perform with the Brazilian dance-theater choreographer Suzana Braga and to choreograph for television, movies and fashion. In the ’90s, when the jobs in Rio dried up, she decamped to Düsseldorf to teach.

Just as she found herself in a creative slump, she was introduced to hip-hop by the American b-boy Marvin A. Smith, also based in Germany. In hip-hop, she recognized a language that offered the freedom she had been seeking. After a fire gutted her apartment, she returned to Rio in 1997 and began producing hip-hop events. She was invited to choreograph Rio’s fashion week and the film “Maré, Nossa História de Amor,” a love story set in Rio’s streets.

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Brazilian Real Weakens to Two-Month Low on Fed Tapering Concern

August 5, 2014

Filipe Pacheco – Bloomberg Businessweek, 8/5/2014

Brazil’s real declined to a two-month low on speculation that evidence of U.S. economic strength will spur the Federal Reserve to begin raising borrowing costs faster than expected.

The real fell 0.7 percent to 2.2746 per dollar at 11:54 a.m. in Sao Paulo, the weakest on a closing basis since June 4. The drop was the biggest among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg after South Africa’s rand. Swap rates, a gauge of expectations for interest-rate moves, increased 17 basis points, or 0.17 percentage point, to 11.76 percent on contracts maturing in January 2017.

“Stronger numbers are coming from the U.S. economy, and any indication that monetary policy may change there before markets expected brings concern to emerging-market investors, and the currency is impacted,” Sidnei Nehme, executive director at NGO Corretora in Sao Paulo, said in a telephone interview. “The real tends to trade closer to 2.30 per dollar for now than toward the 2.25 level.”

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Previously Banned, Brazilian Funk Music Takes Center Stage

July 31, 2014

Emmanuelle Saliba – NBC News, 7/29/2014

American audiences recently got their first taste of a new – and contagious – Brazilian street dancing style that has evolved from music born in the slums of Rio de Janeiro decades ago.

For the creators of Passinho, dancing at New York’s famed Lincoln Center on July 24th went beyond performing on a world-renowned stage. It was a vindication that a dance style associated in Brazil with criminals and gang activity is now seen as an art form that just happened to start in the favelas, or slums.

“Eleven passinho dancers came here to do something that when we started was discriminated against,” said Iguinho Imperador, a 21-year-old dancer hailing from Favela de Manguinhos. In Brazil, he explained, the dance is still often considered an activity for vagabonds, robbers or drug addicts.

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Cadets offer insight into law enforcement in Brazil

July 30, 2014

Kenny Green – Star Local Media, 7/30/2014

Several cadets from Academia De Policia Militar Do Barro Bronco in Brazil are in Mesquite at Eastfield College’s police academy to learn procedures and techniques from Dallas County law enforcement officials. The cadets are being exposed to a completely different culture in law enforcement than the face back home in São Paulo.

“I have seen the structure there, and it’s very militaristic,” said Michael Horak, Eastfield College police chief.

“We have the same structure as far as ranks,” said Cadet Carlos Piles, who serves as the translator for the group. “Our teachings, ethics, uniforms, salutation and rules have a militaristic code.”

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Appalachian’s Energy Center will help improve life for Brazil’s catadores

July 29, 2014

ASU News, 7/28/2014

A community-based landfill gas project in Brazil piloted in 2009 by the Appalachian Energy Center located at Appalachian State University will soon become reality.

The Green Methane Committee in Fortaleza/Maracanaú, Brazil, which the Appalachian Energy Center helped form and train, will receive approximately $750,000 from the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment – National Fund on Climate Change to construct a system to collect and utilize methane gas from the Maracanaú Landfill. The Appalachian Energy Center also helped plan this landfill gas collection and utilization system.

The gas will be used at an Energy Park that will be constructed adjacent to the landfill where catadores (Brazilian waste pickers) will gather plastic and glass recyclables from the waste stream before they end up in the landfill, providing more profit for these workers.

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Brazil Leads Latin American Ecommerce Growth, Becoming Amazon’s Biggest Foreign Market

July 25, 2014

Robert Schoon – Latin Post, 7/24/2014

Latin America, led particularly by Brazil, is continuing rapid growth in its online economy, according to a new study by Internet Retailer. And the boom in ecommerce is good news not only for Latin American Internet retailers, but also for some prominent U.S.-based companies as well — especially Amazon.com.

According to the new 2014 edition of the “Latin America 500,” an annual report by ecommerce research and analysis firm Internet Retailer, Latin America, as a whole, remains the world’s second fastest-growing ecommerce market — only trailing behind China. And Brazil is leading the way, thanks to high Internet penetration rates, a booming market for affordable mobile devices, and an increasingly digital culture.

Internet Retailer ranked the top 500 web merchants in Latin America by sales and 128 other data points — like sales growth rates, web traffic, average checkouts, social media prominence, etc. — tracking retailers in 12 of the most digitally active Latin American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

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Why the U.S. Is Building a Fantastical Aquarium in Brazil

July 24, 2014

Kriston Capps – City Lab, 7/23/2014

Soon enough, Brazil will be able to boast the largest aquarium in South America. When it is completed in 2015, Acquario Ceará, a new public aquarium planned for the northeastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza, will easily be the world’s most recognizable aquarium—an architectural statement piece if there ever was one. It may also be the most truly American project in the Western Hemisphere. While the backers of Acquario Ceará are aiming to create a new design symbol for South America, it will be almost entirely a product of North America.

The U.S. is designing, engineering, constructing, and even financing Acquario Ceará—a design showpiece meant to drive tourism in the state of Ceará after the World Cup. In what has to be a global first, a U.S. federal agency is building a blobitectural marvel on another continent in order to create jobs for small businesses at home.

The project is being designed by Leonardo Fontenele of Imagic Brasil, the Latin American division of the Cincinnati-based design firm Jack Rouse Associates. The key to the aquarium’s wild design is—plainly—the facility’s signature crustaceo-exoskeleton, which is being fabricated by Zahner, the same Kansas City, Missouri–based metals firm that executes titanium tapestries for Frank Gehry. The construction of the project is being overseen by International Concept Management, a small business and custom aquarium maker located in Grand Junction, Colorado. So, the otherworldly Acquario Ceará is basically a Midwestern export.

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Spotify hopes to help fight piracy in Brazil

July 24, 2014

Angelica Mari – ZDNet, 7/23/2014

Spotify hopes to become instrumental in the fight against music piracy in Brazil, according to one of the company’s top executives.

The company, which launched its streaming services in Brazil in May, expects streaming uptake will result in the music piracy decline seen in other countries where it operates, according to Head of Spotify Labs, Gary Liu.

“People tend to do whatever is easier and cheaper. Our objective is to build a product that has the same cost of the pirated product — free — but easier and better,” Liu told delegates at YouPix, an internet and digital culture event that took place last weekend.

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Brazil Sells $3.5 Billion in First Dollar Bond This Year

July 24, 2014

Filipe Pacheco – Bloomberg, 7/23/2014

Brazil issued $3.5 billion of government bonds in exchange for cash and old debt securities, offering the country’s longest maturity in its first dollar-denominated offering this year.

The country issued the bonds due in 2045 to yield 5.131 percent per year, the Treasury said in a statement today. The country raised about $1.5 billion of new cash, according to a person familiar with the offering who asked not be identified because the details haven’t yet been made public. The country also swapped new bonds for outstanding securities with maturities ranging from 2024 to 2041, according to the statement.

Brazil tapped the bond market a week after Fed Chair Janet Yellen reiterated in congressional testimony that U.S. borrowing costs will probably stay low for a “considerable period,” making emerging-market assets more attractive. The Latin American country sold 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) of seven-year bonds in March to yield 2.961 percent just three days after Standard & Poor’s lowered Brazil’s credit rating by one step to the lowest level of investment grade.

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