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March 30, 2010

Comments

Simone

Thanks for sharing, Rachel. You really do a great job in following these stories. Although, I was originally upset on the fact the intl. press seem to miss some important info, I think it does the country well to get positive coverage. I only wonder if they do this on purpose or what. I know, for instance, that some of these papers/magazines have mediocre writers sometimes. Yeah, The Eco. fits quite well (that's not to say they have great staff, because they do). Not sure if it is that or if they want to portray Brazil as "safe" to invest since the money opportunity is there right now (well, not only there but in emerging markets in general). Whatever the reason, we, as Brazilians, in general benefit from good press. Unfortunately, it is not always a good thing when papers lie/omit/manipulate. So I conclude, as usual, that if they keep improving the coverage, to be more realistic, the better it will be. As this wonderful coverage, can also do us harm. Like when the PT fans keep using these article as a shield for criticism. As if, the stories were actually true and Brazilian politics were perfect. "If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is", or so the saying goes.

Jolly

Well i disagree. The reason brazilian economy is still growing is because it is very closed to the rest of the world trade-wise so it wasnt affected as much AND the government percentage wise is a huge part of the economy so it just keeps expanding regardless of contraction of worldwide economy.

Has the government increased expenses such as hiring of workers in say the last decade? Has the private sector grown? There are several measures such as personal credit as percentage of GDP, or any type of credit/[rivate investment as percenage of GDP that will show if private sector grew in participation of the total economy. Do consumers save and invest or spend what they dont have creating debt?

Most importantly, has the productivity of workers RISEN? thats the only way to increase wealth, do more with the same or less number of people. Are brazilian companies investing in R&D to improve product quality or manufacturing efficiency? Has the government bureacracy and judicial system become faster, more reliable and efficient? What about all those informal workers? Any type of legislation change to make firing and hiring easier for companies to be more dynamic and responsive? Tax evasion and complexity of tax system improved? is the government more efficient and accountable with spending compared to the past?

Investment on infrastructure such as roads, railways and ports to improve speed and decrease cost of transportation? What about power stations or increase in energy efficiency over time period? How active is the private sector in all of this instead of sitting and waiting for the government?

How strong is civil society such as diversity in media companies or organizations that track corruption, pressure for transparency and better government?

When serious things like the above start changing then one will beleive Brazil is changing for the better.

bambooska

Thank you for sharing this piece of information, RioGringa! "Low rates of corruption" made me laugh.

Eric

Hi Rachel: While I agree that corruption is still a significant problem in Brazil, I take issue with your assertion that the WSJ piece was a complete absurdity. Certainly compared to the past, more individuals engaged in corruption are being apprehended (especially if you got back 20, 30, 40 years). Before, a blind eye would simply be turned to just about any type of corruption. While there's still (great) room for improvement, I think it's a bit rash to dismiss the article as complete off-base. Considering what corruption once was, there is an appreciable improvement, even that it continues to be a serious problem. But think back even 5 years in the amount of news coverage of lawmaker corruption being exposed, and how much you see now.

Also, the the article refers to a reputation, not a reality, in relation to corruption ("uma reputação relativamente melhor em relação à corrupção". No fan of the WSJ myself, I think the article or editorial's assertion (I didn't se the original, only what you link to at Estadão) is that there is perceived (and real) improvement.

As to Jolly, I respectfully disagree with some of your assertions. I'm totally on board with increase diversity in media companies--the Brazilian media, by and large, has poor diversity as far as ownership is concerned. I'm on board with tackling tax evasion, too. But I'm less convinced on laws governing hiring and firing decisions. Give corporations an inch and they tend to take a mile.

Jolly

In my opinion the biggest reason developing countries have endemic corruption is the lack of oportunity to enrich yourself within the law through merit and competiton. Private monopolies and oligopolies, statism, slow and corupt judiciary and government adminstration all make bribes a great way to enrich oneself since there almost isnt any other way.

It is common for latinos to hate capitalism or liberalism because they beleive the hellish situation they live in is "savage capitalism" and they live in societies where there almost is no fair play, meritocracy, equality of oportunity for talents to rise up and no rule of law to mantain good competition, punish wong doers and respectful opinions in democractic system without breaking into violence.

Eric, beleive it or not the more free a society is to compete the better it is for everyone. I can understand brazilians not agreeing at first because it really doesnt describe their system - rise in productivty only increases unemployment or making it easier to fire someone is a nightmare in a society where geting a job is so hard. However the solution is not a benevolent monopoly that controls everything but instead the lack of monopoly. Freedom in business means anyone can rise if they work hard and are talented instead of businessman being an euphamism for rich guy from traditional family like in latin american societies.

The checks and balances or whatever you wanna call the system that mantains equality of oprtunity and freedom to compete so more jobs, better products and rising productivity occurs with out the meager levels of private investment or low enployment generation due to lack of credit and slow bureacracy. It does work, historically, socities that are free for every citizen to compete become richer, more equal (becaus wealth is linked to hard work and talent), and have lower levels of poverty since there is more oportunity for the poor. Brazil needs a strong civil society with healthy media and civil interest groups who work for competition to be free and for all and to address their particular concerns. Those are extremely alien ideas for a brazilian or other person from developing world hearing it first time but it is what works historically.

mallory elise

oh boy. i have a story to tell you about this wall street feature. aiai :P

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