Investors Cheer Brazil’s Next Economic Czar

Luciana Magalhaes, Rogerio Jelmayer, and John Lyons – The Wall Street Journal, 11/25/2014

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is set to name Joaquim Levy, a former treasury secretary and prominent banker, as the country’s next finance minister, a move aimed at bolstering Brazil’s credibility amid slowing growth, rising inflation and falling markets, an official said.

Ms. Rousseff will name Mr. Levy as Thursday, possibly with other appointments for her second term that starts in January, the official said. Mr. Levy couldn’t be reached for comment.

The 53-year-old economist will succeed Finance Minister Guido Mantega to assume the top economic post at a crucial time for a resource-rich country hitting a downturn amid declining commodity prices. Brazil is mired in a toxic mix of near-zero growth and rising inflation, and its currency has lost more than a third of its value during Ms. Rousseff’s first term.

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Analysis – Brazil’s new economy chief will need space from Rousseff

Brian Winter – Reuters, 11/25/2014

When Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff first considered replacing Finance Minister Guido Mantega two years ago, a top aide confided that any good candidate for the job would have to meet two requirements.

First, a good personal relationship with Rousseff, a notoriously gruff and demanding manager known for making subordinates break down in tears. And second, accept that “Dilma likes to be the minister” – that as a trained economist with a fervent belief in a strong state, she would insist on making many policy decisions, even minor ones, herself.

Rousseff is expected to finally replace Mantega this week with respected banker Joaquim Levy. But it’s unclear whether the job description has really changed since then and whether Levy will have the power and independence to execute the pro-business shift that investors are hoping for.

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3 Reasons Why Brazil’s State-Controlled Oil Giant Petrobras Should Be Privatized

Anderson Antunes – Forbes, 11/20/2014

One of the most famous songs by the late Brazilian rock star and songwriter Raul Seixas is entitled ‘Rent,’ in reference to what he considered to be the best solution for Brazil: literally, to rent the country for foreigners. The song was composed in 1980, at a time when Brazil was going through a difficult economic period marked by hyperinflation.

Fast-forward to 2014. Today the ghost of price increases gone out of control has come back to haunt Brazilians, partly due to a government-sponsored rise in fuel prices that resulted in consumer prices advancing 6.54% in the 12 months through mid-November, down from a rise of 6.62% through the previous month but still above the 6.5% ceiling of Brazil’s Central Bank target, according to the median of 22 market forecasts for the IPCA-15 inflation index.

Add to that a total lack of confidence from investors, a growing budget deficit, falling industrial production and rising poverty. Even the stability of the Brazilian job market, one of the few bright spots for the government, has begun to show signs of difficulties ahead: For the first time since October 1999 the weekly payroll numbers showed a net loss of 30,000 jobs last month, well below the market expectations of a gain of 56,000.

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Another emerging markets crisis looms as Brazil opts for the politics of stagnation

Jeremy Warner – The Telegraph, 10/28/2014

The definition of an emerging market, it was sometimes said – in the days before Goldman Sachs led the stampede of Western money into the developing world – is one from which it is impossible to emerge in a crisis. Investors will know the feeling as they survey the damage to their wealth inflicted by the re-election of the centre left Dilma Rousseff as president of Brazil this week.

In dismay, the Brazilian Ibovespa was down a stomach churning 6.2pc and the Real, in precipitous decline for some years now, fell another 3pc. Investors had hoped for a return to the “Plano Real” and the pro-business agenda of Fernando Henrique Cardoso in the mid-90s to early noughties; instead it’s at least another four years of Workers Party interventionism they have to look forward to.

Brazil is not yet in fully-blown crisis mode, of the type which Latin America seems perennially prone to, but it is self-evidently already on a very slippery slope. Growth has slowed to a virtual standstill, inflation is again climbing towards double digits, and investment has slumped.

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U.S. Reaches Deal With Brazil Ending Cotton Dispute

Alan Bjerga – Bloomberg News, 09/30/2014

The U.S. and Brazil reached a $300 million agreement to resolve a dispute over cotton subsidies that has bedeviled the two nations for more than a decade.

The accord signed today in Washington involves a one-time U.S. payment to the Brazil Cotton Institute in return for that nation dropping all claims against the U.S., the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement. Brazil will also not pursue any new World Trade Organization cotton claims while a five-year farm bill Congress passed in February is in effect.

“Today’s agreement brings to a close a matter which put hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. exports at risk,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a statement with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The United States and Brazil look forward to building on this significant progress in our bilateral economic relationship.”

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Sao Paulo’s Luxury Neighborhoods Ignore Brazil Recession

Cristiane Lucchesi and Blake Schmidt  – Bloomberg, 09/22/2014

Sao Paulo’s most expensive real estate got even pricier this year, surging 10 percent as wealthy buyers in search of safe neighborhoods ignored Brazil’s recession, according to one of the city’s biggest brokerage boutiques.

Apartments in high-end communities such as Vila Nova Conceicao are selling for about 25,000 reais ($10,600) per square meter, said Amir Makansi, partner and chief executive officer at Anglo Americana Consultoria de Imoveis S/C Ltda, which caters to high-net-worth individuals, banks and multinational corporations.

“The market for wealthy individuals is always surprising,” Makansi said in an interview.

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Brazil announces new tax breaks for business

EFE – Fox News Latino, 09/15/2014

Finance Minister Guido Mantega presented here Monday a package of tax measures aimed at stimulating Brazil’s economy less than a month ahead of the presidential election.

“We want to make Brazilian industry more competitive and reduce juridical insecurity,” he said after meeting in Sao Paulo with representatives of the powerful CNI business confederation.

The changes include extending to all industries a reduction in the rate of tax on overseas profits from 34 percent to 26 percent. Until now, that benefit has been available only to firms in construction, services, food processing and the beverage sector.

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