Brazil Names New Heads of Banco do Brasil and Caixa Economica Federal

Jeffrey T. Lewis – The Wall Street Journal, 05/25/2016

SÃO PAULO—Brazil’s finance ministry named two experienced insiders as heads of state-controlled lenders Banco do Brasil SA and Caixa Econômica Federal, as the new government of acting President Michel Temer continues to put its own people in top positions.

Paulo Rogério Caffarelli was named president of Banco do Brasil, the biggest bank in the country by assets, and Gilberto Magalhães Occhi will be president of Caixa Econômica Federal. Mr. Caffarelli will replace Alexandre Abreu, and Mr. Occhi will replace Miriam Belchior, who had both been appointed by suspended President Dilma Rousseff.

Ms. Rousseff had to step aside two weeks ago to face an impeachment trial in the country’s Senate, and was replaced by her vice president, Mr. Temer, who named a new cabinet and put new people in charge of state-controlled companies including Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, and the BNDES state development bank.

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Michel Temer Aims to Restore Confidence in Brazil’s Economy

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 05/24/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer, announced an array of proposals on Tuesday aimed at restoring confidence in the sickly economy of Latin America’s largest country.

Seeking to draw a contrast with Dilma Rousseff, the suspended leftist president whom Mr. Temer maneuvered to oust this month, he said he would try to repeal nationalist oil legislation, curb public spending and shut down a sovereign wealth fund.

Still, Mr. Temer’s televised briefing was light on detail as to how he planned to win approval in a fractious Congress for an array of measures like overhauling a crisis-ridden pension system that allows Brazilians to retire at an average age of 54.

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Brazil turns a page – What to expect of a Temer government

Thomas Kamm – Brunswick Group, 05/12/2016

After a wrenching battle and a last-ditch attempt to derail the whole process, Brazil has removed President Dilma Rousseff and is set to install Michel Temer in her place. Now comes the hard part: getting the country back on track. Mr. Temer is facing a wave of conflicting pressures that amount to a triple challenge to him and his government.

Brunswick Partner Thomas Kamm looks at these challenges faced by a Temer government and the likely steps to expect from him and Finance Minister-designate Henrique Meirelles.

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Corruption is not new to Brazil, so why is it threatening the presidency now?

Ryan E. Carlin, Gregory J. Love and Cecilia Martínez-Gallardo – The Washington Post, 05/05/2016

Ronald Reagan was famously called “the Teflon president” for his ability to deflect scandals that might have sunk his popularity. So why couldn’t Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff tap into this same protection?

Following the lower house’s overwhelming vote on April 17 to impeach Rousseff, Brazil’s government sits on the brink of collapse. An onslaught of corruption charges against the president and her Workers Party (PT) has emboldened her political opponents. In response to allegations of an elaborate kickback scheme that funneled bribes to politicians via the state-run oil firm, Petrobras, Brazil’s elites — including the government’s largest coalition partner, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) — and the public have abandoned Rousseff’s government. Her approval stands at a historically low 9 to 10 percent.

Media coverage of these scandals has been scathing and unrelenting. Yet high-level corruption is hardly new in Brazil. In fact, Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, also from the PT, was himself at the center of several scandals. In 2005, the expansive mensalão investigation of PT payoffs for legislative support threatened to derail his bid for reelection. And yet Lula proved to be a Teflon president and cruised to an easy victory in 2006 — and then helped his chosen successor win the presidency in 2010.

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Brazil’s inflation accelerates above all forecasts in April

David Biller – Bloomberg, 05/06/2016

Brazil’s consumer inflation accelerated more than all analysts forecast in April, pushing the market to temper bets the central bank will lower interest rates.

The benchmark IPCA consumer price index climbed 0.61 percent after a 0.43 percent rise the previous month. That was more than the median forecast for a 0.54 percent increase from 44 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Twelve-month inflation slowed to 9.28 percent.

Annual inflation at more than double the official target has hurt the confidence of Brazilians whose salaries don’t stretch as far as they once did. Making matters worse, the nation is confronting double-digit unemployment and the prospect of a second year of recession. Many believe the scope of the downturn will provide the central bank room to lower its benchmark interest rate from a near 10-year high.

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Petrobras boomtown turns desolate as refinery’s billions vanish

Sabrina Valle and Carlos Caminada – Yahoo Business, 05/04/2016

Located just 30 miles east of Rio de Janeiro’s bustling Copacabana beach, Itaborai looks like many oil boomtowns after the bust — except the deserted stores and empty glass towers that loom over this town of 220,000 speak of some bigger cataclysm than the collapse of crude prices.

“They said this would be the new oil city,” says Jefferson Costa, one of scores of migrants from Brazil’s impoverished north lured here by a multibillion-dollar petrochemical project that was supposed to create more than 100,000 jobs. Work on the complex, known as Comperj, has stopped, and unless new investors materialize, the single refinery now standing may never produce a single drop of fuel. “It’s empty inside,” says Costa, a plumber who lost his job six months ago when construction came to a halt. “People say it will become a large warehouse.”

Comperj has become a symbol of pervasive corruption at Brazil’s state-run oil producer, Petrobras. A sprawling investigation by federal police and prosecutors dubbed Operation Carwash has revealed massive graft, implicating construction conglomerates, banks, oil service providers, shipbuilders and politicians. About 2 percentage points of the 3.8 percent contraction in Brazil’s gross domestic product last year can be attributed to the effects of the scandal on the company and its suppliers, according to estimates from Tendencias, a consulting firm based in Sao Paulo.

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