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Field visit to Sao Paulo (05.10): The mood is upswing.

Sao Paulo, and its 20 M residents

Brazil is on a roll economically. Streets of Sao Paulo are filled with new cars, modern shopping centers are bustling with new consumers and real estate is towering in the city. This is a marked change from the 1990s when hyper inflation was dragging the whole middle class down. I saw people then selling their car to buy an older one! People selling their house to move farther away. Now the middle class is moving up again and it shows. The medium term outlook for economic growth is rosy for a couple of solid reasons:
1. Exports are doing well, with China as the first buyer of Brazilian commodities.
2. Consumption is lifted by the expanding middle class.
3. Governments remain big spenders in Brazil and they hire plenty of workers.
4. Brazilian companies are investing, after years of speculation.

The upbeat mood is likely to continue for the next 5-10 years.  Brazil has announced an infrastructure program in excess of US$500 billion, from ports to highways.  This will sustain the export of commodities.  Multinationals are now positively investing in Brazil to tap on increased domestic consumption.   Even the Chinese are thinking about building car factories in the country.  And the Central Bank remains relatively safe from undue government pressures. Thus the management of the economy should remain on the safe and conservative side.

Yet I wonder as well if the seeds of future trouble are not being planted today.   Interestingly, an article in the Folha de Sao Paulo highlighted the fact that 68% of political party funding comes from construction companies.  The next day, another article complained that large infrastructure projects were running over budget by 20-30%.  This sounds eerily familiar to us.  Corruption is enjoying a field day in Brazil.  Will this ‘samba’ boom take the same turn as previous booms in Latin America?

The next presidential election scheduled for October 2010 will probably serve us an appetizer.

André Du Sault

Posted in Country visits, World economy.

Tagged with , .

2 Responses

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  1. Dina says

    It was dark when I woke. This is a ray of snhusine.

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