November 19, 2013
Lucia Nader – Open Democracy, 11/15/2013
Middle-income BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries are becoming more politically prominent, appearing on the covers of magazines and newspapers in the developed world, and being taken more seriously by the big investment banks.
This increasing clout is also reflected in international human rights arenas. In the marble corridors of the U.N. Human Rights Council, I often hear that it is now necessary to “have Brazil on board” to pass this or that resolution.
It would be healthy to expect that human rights NGOs in the BRICS are also gaining in strength. Surprisingly, this is not so. The mismatch between strong economic growth and fragile local human rights organizations is now very apparent in Brazil.
October 31, 2013
Oliver Stuenkel – Post-Western World, 10/31/2013
Brazil’s economic rise over the past two decades has caused the country’s foreign policy making elite to seek a more prominent role for Brazil in the international community. On a global scale, it has sought to assume more responsibility and engage in international institutions, often criticizing established powers for not providing it with the status it deserves. Brazil’s newfound status has also caused Brazilian governments to reassess its regional role, although Brazil remains ambivalent about which strategy to adopt in South America. There is clearly a gap between Brazil’s global ambitions and its reluctance to adopt a more assertive role in its region. The country’s strategy in the region remains indecisive, combining restrained support for Mercosur, the creation of the Union of South American States (UNASUR) and the South American Defense Council (CSD) with a growing notion that a clearer vision is necessary to mitigate neighbor’s fears of a rising Brazil. Brazilian policy makers disagree on how they should characterize and understand their region – some see it as a source of problems, some as a shield against globalization, and some as a launching pad for global power. Brazil’s self-perception as a ‘BRICS country’ has fueled worries that it will pay little attention to regional matters (given that its trade interdependence with the region is far lower, percentage-wise, than that of its neighbors), causing critics of Brazil’s global focus to call it a ‘leader without followers’.
While Brazil has kept UNASUR relatively toothless, its decision to exclude Central America and Mexico from this institution is a clear sign that policy makers in Brasília have defined South America as Brazil’s immediate sphere of influence. With the majority of the continent’s landmass, population and economic output, and Venezuela’s faltering attempts to turn into a second pole, it is largely up to Brazil to define and design ‘South American Regionalism’. Brazil thus in theory holds a key coordinating role regarding important regional challenges, ranging from China’s growing economic importance, poverty, inequality, integrating the economy and security threats such as drug trafficking and smuggling.
September 18, 2013
Paulo Winterstein & Graciela Ibanez – The Wall Street Journal, 09/18/2013
The expected end of the Federal Reserve’s era of easy money has hit currencies in emerging markets from the rupee to the real. And that is hurting corporate profits from Bangalore to Brazil.
Consider the case of Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes, GOLL4.BR +0.09% the country’s second-biggest airline. About 60% of its costs, such as jet fuel, are in dollars, while revenue is in reais. The real fell as much as 15% after the Fed in June signaled that it would be ending its bond-buying program; as of Tuesday, it was down 9.5% year to date.
The cost of filling up one of Gol’s Boeing jets has soared to about 70,000 reais from about 50,000 reais two years ago, the airline said.
September 6, 2013
Paulo Sotero – CNN, 09/05/2013
The alleged demise of the BRICS is viewed in Brazil with the same caution diplomats and foreign policy experts greeted the group’s emergence in the global scene a decade ago. At best, the BRICS were seen by Brazilian diplomats and scholars as a useful mechanism to project Brazil internationally in a rapidly changing global landscape. However, as the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa lost speed and altitude over the past two years, the difficulties of articulating their conflicting interests in some sort of common vision became more evident
President Dilma Rousseff’s decision to forgo this year’s New Delhi summit of IBSA, a subset of the BRICS formed ten years ago by its three democracies, is a good indication of the loss of interest for this sort of arrangement. Clearly, the role and relevance of the group will depend not only on the economic performance of its members countries in the years ahead, but also on the United States and Europe’s growth and the paths China and Russia follow in dealing with growing internal tensions that could lead to years of instability and disharmony. Syria is an obvious case in point.
Opinions regarding the BRICS’ relevance for Brazil span the spectrum. They range from the dismissive posture of the traditional establishment, which views the grouping as a largely inconsequential forum of countries with little in common, to those who have warmed to the notion of the BRICS as a useful informal arrangement that helps Brazil pursue its international interests in a rapidly changing world.
Paulo Sotero is the director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
July 31, 2013
Joel Dimmock – Reuters, 07/29/2013
Global emerging markets equity funds have cut average weightings to Brazil and South Africa for the fourth straight quarter, according to the latest allocations data from fund research firm Lipper.
You can see a full interactive graphic of the allocations data here or by clicking on the snapshot below.
The average allocation to Brazil has fallen by 1.75 percentage points over the past year to stand at 11.6 percent of portfolios by the end of the April-June 2013 quarter. South Africa’s average weighting has fallen to 6.0 percent from 7.3 percent in the second quarter of 2012.
July 15, 2013
Carol Smythyes – All Africa, 07/15/2013
New research published by the Institute of Development Studies reveals the realities of how the BRICS and Africa are engaging in agricultural development cooperation.
The questions of how Africa can feed itself, and how the agricultural sector can be a more effective engine for growth and development, have long been a target of international development efforts from western donors. But the emergence of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries as major players has raised hopes that agricultural models and experiments from Brazil or China can be transferred or adapted to African countries.
In the first-ever study on this subject, research supported by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and convened by the Future Agricultures Consortium at the Institute of Development Studies reveals some of the realities that lie behind these agricultural ‘models’ and highlights how Brazil and China are engaging with Africa in very different ways.
July 8, 2013
Matthew Malinowski – Bloomberg, 07/08/2013
Brazil economists cut their growth forecasts below 3 percent this year and next for the first time, as inflation curbs purchasing power and confidence in the world’s second-largest emerging market.
Brazil’s economy will expand 2.34 percent this year and 2.80 percent in 2014, compared with the previous week’s forecasts of 2.40 percent and 3 percent, respectively, according to a July 5 central bank survey of about 100 analysts published today. It was the third straight week analysts cut growth expectations for both years.
President Dilma Rousseff’s administration has pledged to improve government services while maintaining fiscal austerity and control of inflation, after more than a million protesters took to the streets last month to oppose corruption and high prices. Support for Rousseff’s government plunged by almost half last month, according to Datafolha. The central bank this week will increase the benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to 8.50 percent, according to 30 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
July 2, 2013
Cristiane Lucchesi & Francisco Marcelino – Bloomberg, 07/01/2013
Brazil is the only so-called BRIC emerging economy where companies not owned by the government, such as Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) and Grupo BTG Pactual, still earn the most investment-banking fees. That may soon end.
Banco do Brasil SA and Caixa Economica Federal, both government-controlled, are using their dominance of the nation’s loan markets and special relationship with President Dilma Rousseff’s administration as a wedge to unseat non-state firms in the race for investment-banking fees.
Banco do Brasil, already the country’s biggest lender by assets, wants to be the No. 1 investment bank as well, said Paulo Rogerio Caffarelli, vice president for wholesale banking. Caixa asked regulators in October for a license to create a 300-person unit. They would compete with BTG, Banco Itau BBA SA and Credit Suisse, the top three companies by investment-banking fees, according to London-based research firm Dealogic.
July 2, 2013
Michael Moran – Global Post, 07/02/2013
The unrest that shook Brazil as it strained to host one of world soccer’s greatest pageants, the Confederations Cup, drew unwelcomed attention to the Latin American giant at a moment when the legs holding up its rise to global prominence have also gone wobbly.
When as many as a million people clogged the streets of Brazil’s largest cities to protest a rise in transit fares and other grievances, the violence that followed, some of it sparked by an unrestrained police response, came as a nasty surprise to investors, diplomats and FIFA, soccer’s world governing body and organizers of the current tournament.
To say FIFA may be worrying about Brazil’s ability to pull off the 2014 World Cup is an understatement, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — looking to the 2016 summer games planned for Rio de Janeiro — cannot be thrilled, either.
June 25, 2013
Alonso Soto – Reuters, 06/24/2013
Major emerging-market nations will work together to limit the effects that a strong U.S. dollar could have on their economies as the Federal Reserve signals plans to scale back its massive stimulus program, the Brazilian government said on Monday.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, discussed ways to strengthen policy coordination on Monday in a telephone conversation, said Thomas Traumann, spokesman for the Brazilian government.
Rousseff will contact other leaders of the BRICS group, which include Russia, India and South Africa, later this week to discuss concrete measures.