Brazil’s largest city may ration water this year, utility says

April 9, 2014

Paulo Whitaker – Reuters, 4/9/2014

Sao Paulo may have to ration water this year if reservoir levels are not replenished, Brazil’s largest water and sewage utility said, an increasing possibility as the southeast region heads into its dry season.

Worries of a water shortage in the metropolis of some 20 million that will host the soccer World Cup opening match on June 12 have increased amid dry weather this week, and the city’s main source of water, the Cantareira reservoir, was at just 12.7 percent of its capacity as of Wednesday.

Economists worry that water rationing or shortages could take a toll on Brazil’s fragileeconomy, which is expected to grow just 2 percent this year, and a shortage in Brazil’sbusiness hub would add to the challenges facing President Dilma Rousseff, who is expected to be re-elected in October.

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Brazil election jitters may hit investment in 2014

April 9, 2014

Alonso Soto & Luciana Otoni – Reuters, 4/8/2014

Brazil’s presidential vote will likely delay some investment decisions this year but spending on infrastructure is expected to remain strong, a senior government official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Although President Dilma Rousseff is the favorite to win the October 5 general election, many investors could withhold funds until the next government outlines its plans for the following four years, which could hamper the country’s already slow economic growth.

“It is obvious that businesses will delay some investments until after the election to have more clarity,” said the official, who asked not to be named because he is not allowed to speak publicly.

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They razed paradise and put up a soybean lot

April 8, 2014

Lucy Jordan – Global Post, 4/7/2014

 It might not look like much, but this little green bean is both villain and hero in Brazil’s Cinderella story.

Soybeans helped turn this South American nation from a country of peasants into the world’s seventh-largest economy. They’re also blamed for the destruction of vast swathes of rain forest, causing habitat loss and bloody land conflicts.

Brazil predicted this year it was going to out-bean world soy leader the United States. A nasty drought may have put the kibosh on that, but this country’s output is still expected to reach some 94 million tons, coming up close behind the US’s 99 million tons.

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Brazil economists see faster inflation and slower growth in 2014

April 7, 2014

Matthew Malinowski – Bloomberg, 4/7/2014

Brazil economists raised their 2014 inflation forecast for the fifth straight week and cut their growth estimates as a food price shock curbs purchasing power in the world’s second-largest emerging market.

Brazil’s inflation this year will accelerate to 6.35 percent, compared with the previous week’s forecast of 6.30 percent, according to the April 4 central bank survey of about 100 analysts published today. Analysts also cut their 2014 growth estimates to 1.63 percent from 1.69 percent a week ago.

President Dilma Rousseff’s administration is struggling to spur growth amid above-target inflation. Brazil’s central bank last week lifted the key rate for the ninth straight time after a drought drove up food prices. Policy makers in an accompanying statement signaled they will observe economic progress before deciding on the future path of monetary policy.

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Two heads are worse than one

April 4, 2014

The Economist, 4/5/2014

“UNIQUE.” That is how Credit Suisse, a bank, sums up Petrobras. It has a point. Most companies’ stocks would sag on the sort of news Brazil’s oil giant has faced in the past three weeks. A federal investigation was opened, into alleged backhanders paid to its employees by a Dutch company in exchange for oil-platform and drilling contracts. (Both companies deny the allegations.) A parliamentary inquiry is imminent, into the purchase in 2006 of a refinery in Texas which cost $1.2 billion but is now worth no more than $180m. A former director has been arrested in a money-laundering probe. If that were not enough, on March 24th Standard & Poor’s, a ratings agency, downgraded its corporate debt. Yet Petrobras’s shares have risen by 30%.

The reason for this seemingly irrational exuberance is that investors consider Petrobras’s prospects to be inversely linked to those of Brazil’s government, led by the president, Dilma Rousseff. The rally began with rumours (later proved premature) that Ms Rousseff’s poll lead over her likeliest challengers in a presidential election this October was dwindling. The government owns a majority stake in the company and makes most of the strategic decisions over the head of Maria das Graças Foster, the chief executive.

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Underdog for Brazil’s presidency bets on post-World Cup surge

April 3, 2014

Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 4/3/2014

Aecio Neves is running for president of Brazil and promising to turn the page on 12 years of leftist government. But he has a problem.

Despite being the grandson of a famous politician and the leader of Brazil’s main opposition party, seven out of 10 Brazilians have never heard of him.

Unfazed, he says that will change after Brazil finishes hosting the soccer World Cup in July and the presidential race kicks off in earnest in the Brazilian media.

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Biden to meet Rousseff as Brazil-U.S. ties begin to thaw

March 28, 2014

Brian Winter – Reuters, 3/28/2014

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden plans to meet withBrazil‘s leader when he attends the World Cup in June, an official with knowledge of the visit told Reuters, a sign that relations between the two countries are thawing after a fight over National Security Agency spying last year.

The meeting with President Dilma Rousseff is slated to take place in Brasilia, the capital, likely after Biden attends a still-undetermined game in the global football tournament, the official said on condition of anonymity.

A White House official declined to comment. A spokesman for Rousseff did not respond to a request for comment.

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Support for Brazil president drops ahead of October vote

March 27, 2014

Paula Prada – Reuters, 3/27/2014

Popular support for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has faltered ahead of October’s presidential election, a poll showed Thursday, although she remains a favorite to win a second term.

With a sluggish economy, high inflation and a scandal surrounding Brazil’s state-run oil company, Rousseff’s personal approval rating has fallen to 51 percent from 56 percent in November, the survey by the Ibope polling institute and Brazil’s National Industry Confederation showed.

Overall support for her administration fell to 36 percent from 43 percent in the previous poll, while 27 percent of those polled disapproved of the government, compared with 20 percent in November.

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