Brazil’s economic party ended well before the World Cup was set to begin. What went wrong?

February 26, 2014

Daniel Altman – Foreign Policy, 2/25/2014

Less than four months from now, billions of people around the world will focus on Brazil as the World Cup kicks off in São Paulo. But some Brazilians are looking forward with as much trepidation as pride, and not just because of their soccer team’s form in recent tournaments. Under the spotlight, their economy may be revealed as much less than meets the eye.

It’s easy to beat up on Brazil these days. Its currency, the real, has lost more than 15 percent of its value in the past year, as has São Paulo’s stock market, and preparations for the World Cup are not exactly on schedule. But just a few years ago, as the world reeled from economic downturns in Europe and the United States, Brazil was the darling of the financial markets. What happened?

In the years leading up to the financial crisis, Brazil had become an attractive option for investors seeking to balance their portfolios. Stock markets in Europe, the United States, and other established economies track each other so closely as to be almost identical. For example, the DAX index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange had a correlation of 0.95 with the Standard and Poor’s 500 index on a month-to-month basis between January 2005 and August 2008. By contrast, the correlation between Brazil’s Bovespa stock market index and the S&P 500 was only 0.73. For investors who wanted to insure themselves against dips in the big markets, some of Brazil’s stocks were a reasonable option.

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U.S. nominates daughter of Colombian as the new ambassador to Brazil

June 6, 2013

Elinane Cantanhede – Folha de S.P., 06/06/2013

Liliana Ayalde, 57, career diplomat, will be the new US ambassador in Brasilia. Her “agrément” (authorization) shall be granted by the Brazilian government tomorrow.

Born in Baltimore in March 1956, Ayalde is the daughter of a Colombian doctor and has worked for the USAID, a division of the U.S. government responsible for implementing the country’s foreign aid policy, since 1981.

She served the USAID, for example, in La Paz and Bogota, and in 2005, during president George W. Bush’s term, she was nominated as ambassador in Asuncion. She then returned to Washington through the USAID and since July of 2012, she has acted as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central America, the Caribbean and Cuba under the Department of State.

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Click here for full biography


Exclusive: Brazil’s Rousseff to make rare state visit to U.S.

April 12, 2013

Brian Winter – Reuters, 04/11/2013

President Dilma Rousseff will make the first formal state visit by a Brazilian leader to the United States in nearly two decades, a diplomatic breakthrough for an emerging power that has clashed with Washington but is hungry for closer ties and recognition of its growing prestige.

The trip will occur later this year, likely in October, officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity because the White House has not yet announced the visit. A White House spokeswoman declined comment.

A state visit, which includes formalities such as a black-tie dinner and a military ceremony upon arrival, is usually reserved for Washington’s closest strategic partners.

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Exclusive: Brazil wants Venezuela election if Chavez dies – source

January 15, 2013

Brian Winter, Ana Flor – Reuters, 01/14/2013

Brazil is urging Venezuela’s government to hold elections as quickly as possible if President Hugo Chavez dies, senior officials told Reuters on Monday, a major intervention by Latin America’s regional powerhouse that could help ensure a smoother leadership transition in Caracas.

Brazilian officials have expressed their wishes directly to Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, the officials said on condition of anonymity. Chavez has designated Maduro as his preferred successor if he loses his battle with cancer.

“We are explicitly saying that if Chavez dies, we would like to see elections as soon as possible,” one official said. “We think that’s the best way to ensure a peaceful democratic transition, which is Brazil’s main desire.”

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Arab Spring: winter at Brazil’s foreign ministry

September 6, 2012

Marcelo Coutinho – Aljazeera, 09/06/2012

The Arab Spring happened and Brazil’s foreign ministry noticed. Our diplomats were unable to handle the situation, did not support democratic movements, and lost the ground it gained over decades in the Middle East.

Whatever name you want to give, the “Arab Spring” is the most significant world event since the end of the Cold War. Nobody predicted it. Civilisation theorists until now, such as Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, claimed it would be impossible that this could happen in Muslim societies.

But after the process began, all the foreign ministries worldwide revisited their perceptions, concepts, and equations and adjusted and adapted their foreign policies in the region, except Brazil.

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Brazil will look to Gulf after polls

September 21, 2010

By Patrick Temple-West – The National, 09/18/2010

Dilma Rousseff, frontrunner to become the next president of Brazil, is said to be the keenest of all candidates in the running to build upon the growing business relationships between the South American country and the Middle East.

Brazilians go to the polls on October 3 to elect a new president after eight years of economic growth under the popular president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – known universally as Lula – who is stepping aside after two terms seen as hugely successful for the economy of Brazil.

Early polling suggests Ms Rousseff, the Workers Party candidate and Lula’s political “disciple” and former chief of staff, could win more than 50 per cent of votes, avoiding the need for a run-off election at the end of October.

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Brazil’s drug problem shaping foreign policy

July 23, 2010

Roque Planas – World Politics Review, 07/20/2010

Two years ago, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso led the call for a “paradigm shift” (.pdf) in the country’s drug policy. Instead of squelching supply through policing, Cardoso advocated for reducing demand by treating drug abuse as a public health issue.

Cardoso’s appeal won plaudits from analysts who have grown impatient with a U.S.-led anti-drug policy that many argue has increased violence without significantly stemming drug abuse. But now it appears that Brazil not only remains committed to treating drugs as a problem for the police, it is also in the process of becoming the first country in Latin America whose drug use is pushing it to adopt a more aggressive foreign policy towards its neighbors.

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Lula’s Tehran misadventure

May 12, 2010

Paulo Sotero- Foreign Policy, 05/11/2010

In the last days of his tenure, the Brazilian president is reaching for his crowning foreign-policy glory. Will it go horribly, horribly wrong?

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva heads to Tehran this week, a sort of victory lap for what he hopes will be a monumental piece of foreign policy: bringing Iran’s leadership to the nuclear negotiating table. Last week, Tehran agreed “in principle” to Brazil and Turkey’s offer to facilitate talks on an agreement proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last October. Should that initiative succeed, it will surely be remembered as Lula’s crowning achievementd.

But many are beginning to wonder if Lula can truly be the darling of the West while also wooing the East. Lula’s administration has pitched the talks to Iran not as a way to come clean but as a way to prove that it is hiding nothing with its peaceful nuclear program — and the United States and Europe are understandably skeptical. Back home, questions have arisen about the Brazilian leader’s motivation for injecting himself and his country in such a daring initiative in the first place. It’s certainly not about domestic politics; if anything, cozying up to Iran is losing Lula points at home. As his presidential term comes to an end, Lula’s move might be more about building a legacy on the world stage than much of anything else. And it may well backfire.

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Lula is no longer ‘the man’

December 23, 2009

O Estado de São Paulo, 12/20/2009 (summary from Portuguese)

Brazil has fallen out of grace with Washington. The enthusiasm shown in April by President Barack Obama – “this is the man” he said of his Brazilian counterpart- seems to have withered. After several clashes, the visit of the U.S. president to Brasilia in 2010 is uncertain.

Disagreements over the election in Honduras and Brazil’s support of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, went well beyond the normal differences between governments.

The malaise has infected the press and arrived in the U.S. Congress, where Sen. Frank Lautenberg suspended the vote of the beneficial measure for Brazilian exporters. According to a Lautenberg spokesperson, the senator’s action came as a response to the Brazil’s Supreme Court decision against the immediate return of the boy Sean Goldman to his father, David Goldman.

Lula’s support of Ahmadinejad, when even China and Russia condemned the Iranian nuclear program, was seen as a disastrous move in the U.S. media. In this context, a Washington Post editorial said the West was right in not offering Brazil a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Lula was also criticized in the American press for dabbling in Central American politics without knowing enough about the region. His intervention in Honduras was seen as an obstacle to the solution of the crisis – an error compounded by the insistence of not recognizing the legitimacy of the elections.

According to Moisés Naim, editor of the magazine Foreign Policy, “Brazil behaves like an immature and resentful developing country.”

In a short time Lula poisoned, without any political or economic gain for Brazil, the goodwill that existed during the Republican administration and maintained in beginning of Barack Obama’s term. To have global influence, the Washington Post commented, Brazil would have to leave the Third Worldism of its foreign policy. Not likely to happen with Brazil’s Foreign Ministry under the control of the current ideological policymakers.

To read the full article (in Portuguese), click here.


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