Week in Review 07/20/2012

Each Friday, through the Brazil Portal feature “The Week in Review”, the Brazil Institute will highlight Brazil’s news topics in one concise summary.

The economic and investment climate in Brazil continued to feature prominently in this week’s headlines. One of the most puzzling facts for Brazilian economic analysts is that the nation’s consumer confidence remains high, despite the multitude of downward revisions for projected annual growth. Notwithstanding the flagging currency, nose-diving stock market and the decline of the nation’s ETF (exchange-traded fund), Brazil’s population still seems happy to spend. However, not all the news is so grim: successful projections for Brazil’s commodities such as coffee and sugar, which have seen a recent upswing, are tempering the pessimism.  Additionally, many international investors hope to capitalize on consumer spending; companies like Land Rover are expanding operations in Brazil. However, even this consumer spending is no golden ticket; the economic slowdown has some foreign investors rolling back production and threatening layoffs, often inciting anger or even massive strikes like the one seen at the GM Factory last Monday.

Oil was another major topic dominating Brazilian headlines, both from economic and environmental perspectives. On the environmental side are recent developments in the Chevron oil spill case: the ANP, Brazil’s petroleum regulation agency, reported that the fine against Chevron will not likely exceed 25 million. Chevron claims that they are not at fault, however, the ANP claims that the leak could have been prevented. Preemptive ties were drawn between the spill and the mysterious case of dead penguins washing up on the shores of Rio Grande do Sul, however it has recently been discovered that the penguins died of natural causes. On the economic side, Brazil’s Petrobras is hoping that raising oil prices will help their recent sales slump; the majority-state-owned company was proclaimed the worst performing major oil stock this year. Other oil companies, such as Norwegian owned Statoil, have seen more success in tapping Brazil’s sizable offshore resources.

In other news, rising rates of violence in the country have drawn the attention of the press. Geraldo Alckmin, governor of São Paulo state, attributes rising violence in his region to drug trafficking. Whatever the cause, studies have shown that violence is on the rise and is especially affecting youth; a recent study shows that Brazil has one of the highest youth homicide rates in the world.

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