Exclusive: Brazil seeks to block return to free trade in autos with Mexico – sources

February 13, 2015

Ana Isabel Martinez and Alonso Soto – Reuters, 2/12/2015

Grappling with tumbling auto sales and weak economic growth, Brazil wants to derail a pact that would allow unlimited imports of cars from Mexico, sources familiar with the situation say, in a move that could stoke trade tensions between Latin America’s largest economies.

A treaty between the two nations and auto manufacturers, which sets quotas on how many light vehicles Mexico and Brazil can sell each other, expires in March. Auto trade between the two was then supposed to be fully liberalized.

Brazil this week invited a Mexican government delegation to a meeting in Brasilia between Feb. 20 and 25 for talks to revamp the treaty.

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Brazil’s Budget Disarray Shocks Bondholders Backing Levy

February 5, 2015

David Biller – Bloomberg Business, 2/3/2015

Bond investors have been fretting for months about Brazil’s deteriorating finances. Last week, they learned things are far worse than they’d imagined.

The government said Jan. 30 that it posted the nation’s biggest-ever budget deficit in 2014 after a shortfall in December that was twice as big as analysts had forecast.

The report laid bare the scale of the challenges facing Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, who is seeking to ward off a downgrade to junk and restore investor confidence in Latin America’s biggest economy. After rebounding to a five-year high as Levy boosted taxes and cut spending earlier this year, the nation’s local bonds have now dropped 1.3 percent since Jan. 30, 43 times the emerging-market average.

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Several Brazilian Executives Mentioned as Possible Next Petrobras CEO

February 5, 2015

Luciana Magalhaes and Paul Kiernan – The Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2015

Maria das Gracas Silva Foster, the chief executive of Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras , stepped down on Wednesday amid a growing corruption scandal, leaving vacant one of the most high-profile and demanding jobs in Latin America.

Petrobras says its board will meet on Friday to choose a replacement, but meanwhile, several names have been mentioned by analysts and in the Brazilian press as possible candidates. Here are six of those seen as most likely:

1.) Henrique Meirelles. Former president of Brazil’s central bank, current chairman of J&F, the controlling shareholder of leading global meatpacker JBS SA . Mr. Meirelles, 69, would likely have the support of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who also wanted him to become Finance Minister before Joaquim Levy was appointed to that post, according to two people familiar with the situation. Mr. Meirelles isn’t particularly close to current President Dilma Rousseff , but investors trust him, and Ms. Rousseff knows that bringing confidence back to Petrobras is necessary. A spokesman for Mr. Meirelles declined to comment on market rumors.

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Oscars 2015 History: How Has Brazil Done at the Biggest Film Awards Show on the Planet?

January 27, 2015

David Salazar – Latin Post, 1/26/2015

After Argentina, no other South American country has had as strong a performance at the Academy Awards as Brazil.

The South American nation has grown as a center of great film over the last few decades and has made its presence known at the biggest awards show in the industry.

Brazil has managed 18 nominations at the big show, but has yet to win a single award. Brazil does have one film competing at the Oscars this year in the Best Documentary category. That film is “The Salt of the Earth,” which is directed by the legendary Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

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Olympic host Brazil dominates list of world’s 50 most dangerous cities

January 22, 2015

Tim Johnson – McClatchyDC, 1/20/2015

Forty-three of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world are in Latin America, according to a survey released Tuesday, including 19 in Brazil, which will host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Mexico City didn’t make the list, and Ciudad Juárez, the border city with Texas that was once the world’s murder capital, fell this year to No. 27. But the fallen Mexican resort of Acapulco was No. 3, behind San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Caracas, Venezuela.

This is the seventh year that the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, a Mexico City advocacy, has compiled the list, based on official murder rates per 100,000 residents of cities with more than 300,000 people.

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Syrians find safety, hospitality in São Paulo

January 22, 2015

Matt Sandy – Al Jazeera, 1/22/2015

Three-year-old Mirna held a doll in one hand and played with her tangled coffee-colored hair in the other. She flashed a smile and asked, “Tudo bem?”

The ubiquitous Brazilian greeting was expressed with its trademark positivity. Mirna, who was born in Damascus three months after the start of the Syrian civil war, is learning Portuguese fast.

Having arrived in Latin America’s largest city just weeks before, for the first time in her life she was enjoying being out in the sunshine and meeting new people. Before, she remained hidden with her family in their home, hearing it shake with every nearby explosion.

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Brazil Ranks Near Bottom in Competitiveness

January 16, 2015

Luciana Magalhaes – The Wall Street Journal, 1/14/2015

Brazil ranked next-to-last in a study of competitiveness among 15 peer nations, besting only Argentina, according to Brazil’s National Confederation of Industry.

High taxes, poor infrastructure and a weak education system are among the factors burdening Latin America’s largest nation, which has been one of the region’s weakest economic performers in recent years.

“Brazil’s productivity has been stagnant for almost five years, ” said Renato da Fonseca, CNI’s executive manager of research and competitiveness.

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