Happy Holidays from the Brazil Institute

Brazil Institute Holiday Card jpeg

Happy Holidays from the Brazil Institute! The Brazil Portal will take a short break for the Holidays and will return in the New Year.


Brazilian cities hit by crack epidemic

Juan Forero – The Washington Post, 12/26/2012

Glassy-eyed, rail-thin and filthy, hundreds of addicts emerged from doorways and alleys as dusk came to the once-grand Luz district in the heart of this city.

After quick transactions with crack dealers, they scrambled for a little privacy to light up their pipes and inhale tiny, highly addictive rocks that go for about $5 each. The image was reminiscent of Washington or New York in the 1980s, when crack cocaine engulfed whole neighborhoods and sparked a dizzying cycle of violence.

But this time, the crack epidemic is happening in Brazil, alarming officials and tarnishing the country’s carefully cultivated image ahead of two major sporting events to be staged here: soccer’s 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

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Brazil econonmy loses ground again

Ruth Costas – BBC Brasil, 12/25/2012

A year ago, Brazil´s overtaking of the UK to become the world’s sixth largest economy was celebrated with enthusiasm by the Brazilian authorities.

At the time, in a boisterous mood, the Brazilian economy minister, Guido Mantega, predicted that France and even Germany could be soon left behind by Brazil’s “large steps”.

Today, however, forecasts suggest that the partying may have been premature. Or, at least, that the battle for this sixth place will be much harder than Brazilians expected.

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Brazil real rises most among world currencies on intervention

Ney Hayashi, Patricia Lara – Bloomberg, 12/26/2012

Brazil’s real rallied the most in the world as the central bank intervened to stem the currency’s drop and contain inflation in Latin America’s biggest economy.

The real advanced to a six-week high as the central bank sold $1.8 billion of currency swaps at two auctions and agreed to lend as much as $2 billion in foreign-exchange credit lines. Swap rates fell as speculation eased that policy makers will boost the target lending rate, known as the Selic, to cap consumer prices.

The real jumped 1.2 percent to 2.0557 per U.S. dollar at 4:22 p.m. in Sao Paulo, the strongest on a closing basis since Nov. 12. The gain was the biggest among all of the world’s currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The real pared its drop in 2012 to 9 percent after falling on Nov. 30 to a three-year low of 2.1360. Swap rates on the contract due in January 2014 fell three basis points, or 0.03 percentage point, to 7.14 percent.

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Topics to make Brazil squirm

Larry Rohter – The New York Times, 12/23/2012

Francisco Buarque de Hollanda, known professionally as Chico Buarque, has had a curiously bifurcated artistic career. In his homeland, Brazil, he is considered the greatest songwriter of the past 50 years, a kind of Cole Porter crossed with Bob Dylan whose elegant compositions, written alone or with partners like Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes and Caetano Veloso, have become standards in the Great Brazilian Songbook.

But to the extent that Mr. Buarque is known at all in the English-speaking world his primary identity is that of a novelist with a cult following among more celebrated writers. “Spilt Milk” is his fourth novel, and it comes with the ringing endorsement not only of his friend José Saramago, the Portuguese Nobel laureate who died in 2010 (a year after the book was published in Brazil) but also of fashionable younger American writers impressed by Mr. Buarque’s verbal dexterity, like Jonathan Franzen and Nicole Krauss.

Mr. Buarque’s writing style is strikingly different in the two realms, but his reputation is well earned in both. As a songwriter he tends toward lilting compositions that draw on bossa nova and samba, while as a novelist he is a master at generating discomfort, and in “Spilt Milk” he confronts the themes that make Brazil squirm, from the stain of slavery to the inferiority complex the country has historically felt when it compares itself to Europe.

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First black court chief confronts corruption in Brazil

Raymond Colit, Arnaldo Galvao – Bloomberg, 12/20/2012

Joaquim Barbosa once pored over law tomes while working nights as a typesetter to pay for college. Now he is rewriting them — and the history books as well — as the first black chief justice of Brazil’s Supreme Court and the presiding judge in a landmark corruption case.

Barbosa, 58, rocketed to celebrity for his role in a trial that convicted close aides of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who appointed him to the top court in 2003. In a country where few politicians are ever tried for corruption and virtually none go to jail, Barbosa led the way in arguing that Lula’s aides stole public money, used it to bribe lawmakers and should be punished with lengthy prison terms.

The son of a brick-layer and a cleaning lady, Barbosa overcame racial prejudices to galvanize sentiment for cleaner politics. While non-whites make up more than half of Brazil’s population, they hold only 8 percent of seats in Congress and earn half as much as whites, according to the statistics agency.

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Brazil’s swap rates rise as unemployment rate falls; real drops

Blake Schmidt – Bloomberg, 12/21/2012

Brazil’s swap rates rose for a fourth day after the unemployment rate dropped to a record low for the month of November, fueling speculation that the central bank will raise borrowing costs to control inflation.

Swap rates due in January 2015 climbed six basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 7.88 percent at 10:25 a.m. in Sao Paulo, extending its weekly increase to 25 basis points, the biggest since the five days ended May 25. The currency depreciated 0.2 percent to 2.0725 per U.S. dollar after advancing yesterday to 2.0693, the strongest since Nov. 14.

Unemployment fell to 4.9 percent last month from 5.3 percent in October, the national statistics agency reported today. The reading was lower than forecast by all except two of 33 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, whose median estimate was for the jobless rate to decrease to 5.1 percent.

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