Experts give their prescriptions for Brazil as the commodity boom ends

March 27, 2015

Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 3/25/2015

Brazil’s economy has slowed sharply. The brakes were applied by the end of the commodity supercycle that occurred in the first decade of the 21st century combined with rapid credit growth.

The debate in Brazil has returned to the vexed question of how to make one of the world’s most inward-looking economies more competitive.

The answer lies in improving education, streamlining taxation, simplifying bureaucracy in general, and fixing infrastructure. But beneath these concepts are complex questions that run as deep as Brazilian politics and culture itself.

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Brazil after the 2014 elections: a bumpy road ahead

March 2, 2015

Sergio Fausto – The German Marshall Fund of the United States, 2/27/2015

Brazil’s future prospects, and ability to harness its advantages, will hinge on its own policy choices over the next few years. Yet the outlook for meaningful change is unclear. At present, Brazil is in a weaker position than four years ago, from both an economic and a foreign policy standpoint. Even in a scenario where Brazil’s economy gradually returns to the course it was on until 2008, no major strategic changes are likely to happen in Rousseff’s four-year term.
Read full report here.

Brazil’s booming education sector loses shine as government intervenes

January 16, 2015

Asher Levine – Reuters, 1/16/2015

An unexpected regulatory change has taken the shine off Brazilian education companies in the new year, putting an end to a dizzying rally and raising questions about whether President Dilma Rousseff really has given up on interventionist policies.

The shares of education companies have skyrocketed over the past three years, despite a sharp slowdown in Brazil’s economy and a 12 percent drop in the benchmark Bovespa index. Investors saw the companies as a safe bet, given repressed demand for higher education among Brazil’s growing middle class and the government’s commitment to student loans and grants.

Two weeks ago, however, the government changed without warning the rules governing a college loan program known as Fies, which provides roughly half of the revenue of listed companies such as Kroton Educacional SA and Ser Educacional SA.

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Family Saga Shows Brazil Student Funds Curb Joblessness

August 28, 2014

Matthew Malinowski and Anna Edgerton – Bloomberg News, 8/27/2014

Francisco Melo started working at age seven to help feed his 10 brothers and sisters on a Brazilian farm and went to school for only a few days. Jefferson, his 17-year-old son, never worked and attends technical school.

Their saga ties in with the story of 11 million Brazilians who gained access to higher education through state-funded initiatives in the past decade. It’s behind the longest contraction in Brazil’s labor force in at least 12 years, explaining how the unemployment rate is at a record low under President Dilma Rousseff even as job creation slows.

Programs that provide free work training, scholarships and subsidized student loans are buoying Rousseff’s campaign as she runs for re-election in October after delivering the slowest growth of any Brazilian president in more than two decades. The initiatives are creating a windfall for education providers and are shielding Rousseff from attacks that her economic stewardship has failed as rivals creep up in polls.

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Fury at Brazil job seeker pap smears, virginity tests

August 11, 2014

AP – The Sydney Morning Herald, 8/9/2014

Women seeking education jobs in Brazil’s most populous state should not be required to submit to gynaecological exams or prove their virginity, according to women’s rights advocates.

The education department of Sao Paulo state requires female prospective teachers to undergo a pap smear to prove they are free of a variety of cancers, or to present a doctor’s statement verifying they have not been sexually active.

Until recently, it also required women to have a colposcopy, a type of visual examination used to detect disease.

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Encouraging Brazil’s emerging middle class to buy sustainably

August 7, 2014

Pablo Barros – The Guardian, 8/6/2014

There is an economic phenomenon transforming emerging economies around the world – the rise of a new middle class of consumers. And the need for business to manage their major impact on the existing global system of production and consumption.

Encouraging these new consumers to make sustainable buying choices is one of the greatest challenges facing responsible companies today. As traditional approaches fail, businesses in Brazil are now starting to explore the power of behaviour change techniques.

Over the last ten years, some 30 million Brazilians have joined the middle class. These new consumers are swelling the numbers of a market which is already stretching Brazil’s natural resources beyond their capacity. Nevertheless, it is impossible to deny to this segment of the population the access to consumption that is already enjoyed by other Brazilians.

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The Jane Austen of Brazil

August 7, 2014

Miranda France – The Spectator, 8/7/2014

When the American poet Elizabeth Bishop arrived in Brazil in 1951, she expected to spend two weeks there and ended up staying 15 years, a time of emotional turbulence and creative productivity. Bishop wrote poetry and prose and translated Latin American writers, including Octavio Paz, but this project, suggested by friends as a way to improve her Portuguese, is something completely different. It’s a teenager’s diary, written between 1893 and 1895 in the remote mining town of Diamantina, the highest town in Brazil. It’s a delightful, funny and revealing memoir, a little bit of Austen in the Americas.

Helena’s real name was Alice Dayrell, (the pseudonym came from her English relations). At the time she was writing, Diamantina was ten days’ journey from Rio de Janeiro, two by train, eight by mule. Set in a weird landscape of giant boulders and ant-hills, it’s a town where everyone knows everyone else’s business and, as Helena often reminds us, all of them are lunatics. ‘Just build a wall around the town. The place is a regular asylum.’

Helena’s father is mostly absent; he’s invested in a new diamond mine, so far with nothing to show for it. Many of the region’s inhabitants are after that elusive, fortune-making diamond that will change everything. Helena’s family live in hope of future riches and scrape by as best they can.

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