April 23, 2012
Mark Roe, Joao Paulo Vasconcellos – BusinessDay, 04/23/2012
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s visit last week to Washington, DC, offers an occasion to consider how some once-poor countries have broken out of poverty, as Brazil has. Development institutions like the World Bank have advocated improving business law as being essential to success. Are they right?
Such thinking goes back at least as far as Max Weber’s argument that an effective business environment requires a legal structure as predictable as a clock. Investors, it is thought, need clear rules and effective courts. Security of contract and strong mechanisms that protect investors are, in this view, foundational for finance, which in turn fuels economic growth. If a potential financier is unsure of being repaid, he or she will not invest, firms will not grow, and economic development will stall. Rules and institutions come first; real economic development follows.
But, compelling as this logic seems, Brazil’s rise does not confirm it: financial and economic growth was not preceded by – or even accompanied by – fundamental improvements in courts and contracts.
November 2, 2011
Brazil will get $8 billion in financing from the World Bank to push its campaign to uproot extreme hardship deeper into some of the country’s poorest areas, the bank said on Tuesday.
As part of the World Bank’s “Country Partnership Strategy” for Brazil, the funding will go toward improving services such as health, education and environmental protection, as well as promoting economic development in the northeast — Brazil’s poorest region.
The eradication of extreme poverty, defined as income below 70 reais ($40) a month, has become a hallmark of President Dilma Rousseff’s domestic agenda.
June 17, 2011
World Politics Review, 06/17/2011
On June 1, Brazil approved the construction of the controversial Belo Monte dam, a hydroelectric project in the Amazon rain forest. In an email interview, Kathryn Hochstetler, the CIGI Chair of Governance in the Americas at the University of Waterloo’s Balsillie School of International Affairs, discussed the Belo Monte dam.
WPR: What is the background of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam project, and what are the opposing arguments for and against the dam?
Kathryn Hochstetler: The dam was first proposed in the 1970s, but it was set aside when World Bank funding was withdrawn in the face of widespread popular opposition to the project. The project was subsequently revised, and the environmental impact assessment began in 2001. The past decade has been devoted to the licensing process and some 10 court cases, most challenging the state’s failure to adequately consult indigenous and other residents impacted by the dam. On April 1, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States asked Brazil to suspend construction to allow for further consultation. Brazil responded that there had been ample opportunities for input and broke ties with the judicial body.
June 6, 2011
Jacqueline Windh – The Guardian, 06/06/2011
Chief Raoni smokes a pipe while demonstrating against the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. Photograph: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino
The man pictured above is Raoni Txucarramãe, chief of the Kayapó people, who hail from Brazil’s northern Pará province. The homeland of the Kayapó is the tropical rainforest surrounding the tributaries of the giant Xingu river, itself a nearly 2,000km long tributary of the Amazon. But the livelihood of the Kayapó people is under grave threat. Brazil’s president, Dilma Vana Rousseff, has authorised the construction of a dam that will flood their homeland.
The Belo Monte dam will be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric dam (after China’s Three Gorges dam, itself with numerous problems, and the Brazilian-Paraguayan Itaipu dam). It will flood 400,000 hectares of the world’s largest rainforest, displacing 20,000 to 40,000 people – including the Kayapó. The ecological impact of the project is massive: the Xingu River basin has four times more biodiversity than all of Europe. Flooding of the rainforest will liberate massive amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas far more damaging than carbon dioxide. But the impact on Chief Raoni’s people, on an entire society, is unimaginable.
The Kayapó traditionally practised slash-and-burn agriculture on small farms cut into the jungle. The rich resources of their lands (minerals, timber, and potential hydroelectrical power) have brought pressures from outside. Although the Brazilian constitution explicitly prohibits the displacement of “Indians” from their traditional lands, it provides for one convenient exception: where the National Congress deems removal of the people to be “in the interest of the sovereignty of the country“. Proponents of the dam argue that its construction is in the nation’s interest.
June 2, 2011
Associated Press/Washington Post, 06/01/2011
The World Bank and 40 cities from around the world joined forces Wednesday with a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The bank reached the agreement with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a coalition founded in 2005 with the aim of reducing carbon emissions. Its chairman is New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
Bloomberg, World Bank President Robert Zoellick and former President Bill Clinton announced the new partnership during the opening session of the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit.
June 2, 2011
Gerald Jeffris – Dow Jones/WSJ, 06/01/2011
The World Bank is set to nearly double its financing in Brazil to $6 billion in the coming fiscal year to support development projects and continued economic growth in the country, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Wednesday.
Speaking to journalists ahead of scheduled meetings with Brazilian authorities this week, Zoellick said lending to Brazil could rise from an average of $3 billion currently, and that more than half of the new financing would go to projects in the country’s less-developed Northeastern region.
“We’ve averaged about $450 million a year to the Northeast, so this is a big boost up,” he said.
May 18, 2011
*Paulo Sotero, Director of the Brazil Institute, discusses the role of Chavez and how it relates to Brazil
Juan Forero – Washington Post, 05/17/2011
Across Latin America, people are raising concerns about Chavez’s governing style and Venezuela’s dwindling oil economy.
IPOJUCA, Brazil — Here on Brazil’s northeast coast, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dreamed of building an oil refinery and naming it after a Brazilian adventurer who had fought for Venezuela’s independence. The joint venture with Brazil, he said in trips here, would help unify Latin America against his adversary, the United States.
The $15 billion refinery is now two years away from completion, but with little input from Venezuela or its mercurial president, who for years backed projects regionwide in his drive to make Venezuela the vanguard of a new era in Latin America.
Indeed, these days Chavez’s influence is waning across the region as Venezuela’s oil-powered economy has gone bust and concerns have been raised about his governing style, which includes the jailing of opponents.
October 20, 2010
Bettina Wassener – New York Times, 10/18/2010
The World Bank flagged the potential risks on Tuesday of the flood of cash heading into emerging markets, while South Korea and Brazil signaled additional measures aimed at stemming the tide, highlighting how worried many emerging nations have become about the extent to which inflows have pushed up their currencies.
Yoshihiko Noda, the Japanese finance minister, added his voice to the chorus of concern about the flow of capital to emerging economies and called on finance ministers of the Group of 20 major economies to seek ways to stabilize currencies when they meet in South Korea this week, Reuters reported.
“Currencies will be the topic that many people will be talking about” at the meeting, Reuters quoted Mr. Noda as saying. “I hope that good ideas will be put forward there.”
September 24, 2009
The president of Brazil, Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva, presented this statement at the General Debate of the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2009. Below are some highlights from the speech and a link to the full speech transcript in English.
“We cannot shovel away the rubble of failure; we must be the midwives to the future!”
“Three perils haunt our planet: the ongoing economic crisis, the lack of stable, representative world governance and the threat of climate change for all of our lives.”
“Exactly one year ago, at the onset of the crisis that overtook the world economy, I said from this tribune that history would never forgive us for the serious blunder of dealing only with the impacts rather than the causes of the crisis.”
“Rich countries are putting off reform at multilateral agencies like the IMF and the World Bank. We simply cannon understand the paralysis of the Doha Round, whose conclusion will above all benefit poor countries. There are also worrisome signs of return to protectionist practices, while little has been done to fix tax havens.”
“Poor and developing countries must increase their share of control in the IMF and the World Bank. Otherwise, there can be no real change and the peril of new and greater crises will be inevitable.” Read the rest of this entry »