Julia Leite & Paula Samba – Bloomberg, 06/27/2016
Brazil is winning over derivatives traders as Acting President Michel Temer seeks to repair the nation’s finances.
The cost to hedge against losses in Brazil’s bonds with credit-default swaps has tumbled by almost a third in the past six months, the biggest drop among the world’s major economies. Prices of the swaps are also now back to levels that prevailed before S&P Global Ratings cut the country’s rating to junk in September.
The turnaround is part of a rebound in Brazil’s financial assets this year fueled by the removal of President Dilma Rousseff from office while she faces an impeachment trial. Since taking the reins last month, Temer has proposed spending caps to help shrink a near-record budget deficit and struck a deal to ease a fiscal crisis roiling Brazilian states amid the longest recession in more than a century.
Brian Winter – Americas Quarterly, 06/22/2016
It’s been yet another rough week for Brazil’s international image, with an Olympic mascot shot dead in an absurd accident and another national political figure dragged into scandal. But the biggest blow of all came from Declan Ryan, co-founder of the Irish budget airline Ryanair, who told an Argentine newspaper that he was considering expansion into every South American country “except for Brazil, where there is lots of corruption.”
This is precisely the wrong lesson to draw from Brazil’s struggles – akin to believing that the house that gets the most exhaustive inspection must also be the most rotten one on the block. It’s telling that Ryan made his comments (which became huge news in Brazil) while announcing an expansion into Argentina, where the corruption under 12 years of Kirchner rule is only now coming to light. Just last week, a former Argentine secretary of public works was arrested while trying to hide $9 million in cash in a monastery. Ryan preferred tolaugh that story off.
As regular AQ readers know, the negative headlines about Brazil result from a positive process – the independent prosecutors who have uncovered evidence of systemic graft and fraud, and sent some of the country’s most powerful people to jail. This does not mean Brazil is South America’s most corrupt country – it may mean, instead, that it has its healthiest (or most active) legal system. But the mistake Ryan made is surprisingly common, and it provides a golden opportunity for investors who are savvy enough to see the truth.
Samantha Pearson – Financial Times, 06/20/2016
With its concrete beds and squat toilets, the Complexo Médico-Penal is probably not where Brazil’s top construction and oil executives had pictured spending their retirement.
Normally reserved for mentally ill prisoners, the prison lies at the end of a potholed road on the banks of the Iraí reservoir in the southern state of Paraná. From the outside, a dilapidated brick archway at CMP’s entrance gives it the appearance of a rundown farm. However, an aerial view reveals its sinister layout, with the cells arranged in the shape of a giant machine gun.
For most of the past year, it has been home to Marcelo Odebrecht, head of Latin America’s largest construction group; João Vaccari Neto, former treasurer of the leftwing Workers’ party, Brazil’s largest political party, and other suspected ringleaders of the vast corruption scandal at Petrobras, the oil company.
Alonso Soto and Maria Carolina Marcello – Reuters, 06/15/2016
Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer proposed on Wednesday a constitutional amendment to limit public spending growth for up to 20 years, one of the most far-reaching fiscal reforms in decades designed to curb a runaway rise in public debt.
Brazil’s government, including the legislative and judiciary branches, will be obliged to limit annual spending growth to the inflation rate of the prior year if the flagship reform is approved in Congress, according to a Finance Ministry statement.
The move signaled a victory for economic hardliners in the cabinet, led by Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, who overcame calls from a faction pushing for a shorter cap.
Costas Pitas – Reuters, 06/14/2016
Luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) opened a new plant in Brazil on Tuesday, its first fully owned facility outside of Britain, as part of an investment announced before car sales began nosediving in the world’s ninth-largest economy.
The Tata Motors-owned automaker joins rivals such as Volkswagen and General Motors in setting up plants in the nation of 200 million people to circumvent high tariffs on imports and meet rules on locally produced content.
JLR first announced its 240 million pound ($350 million) investment in Brazil in 2013 as the market just ended a decade of growth with subsequent interest rate hikes, crumbling consumer confidence and political turmoil pushing down demand.
Paulo Trevisani – The Wall Street Journal, 06/13/2016
BRASÍLIA—Brazil’s central bank Monday inaugurated a new leader to deal with an old challenge: taming stubborn inflation amid a shaky economy and political chaos.
Private-sector economist Ilan Goldfajn took over the post from Alexandre Tombini in an hour-long ceremony at the bank’s imposing building here. An appointee of Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff, Mr. Tombini had held the job since January 2011. On his watch, Brazil never met its 4.5% annual inflation target, as the figure stayed significantly above that level even as the economy ground to a halt in the past few years.
Mr. Goldfajn, 50 years old, was appointed by acting President Michel Temer, who will serve out Ms. Rousseff’s term if she is ousted. Mr. Goldfajn—a U.S.-educated economist who for the past decade led the economic-research department at Itaú Unibanco, Brazil’s largest private-sector bank—has pledged to meet the nation’s inflation target, without giving a time frame, even as prices are rising at a 9.3% pace, as of May.
Financial Times, 06/13/2016
Slowly and ever so cautiously, economists are daring to let themselves to get optimistic about Latin America’s largest economy again.
For the third week in a row, economists have upped their 2016 and 2017 outlook on Brazil. The consensus of the latest weekly survey published by the Brazilian central bank now sees the economy shrinking by 3.6 per cent this year and growing 1 per cent next year. Just two weeks ago, they were expecting gross domestic product to contract 3.81 per cent this year, roughly the same as in 2015 and to grow 0.55 per cent next year.
The upward revisions are a fillip for the new government led by interim president Michel Temer, who took over from president Dilma Rousseff last month after congress approved impeachment proceedings against her.