Brazil’s Financial Position as U.S. Edges toward Default

With the U.S. teetering at the precipice of default, countries around the world are struggling to understand how they might be affected. Brazil’s current economic situation is a mixed batch: on the one hand, it is stable and flush with reserves (about US$350 billion); on the other hand, investors looking to diversify out of the dollar may be lured to the Brazilian markets because of the country’s high interest rates, putting further pressure on the much sought Brazilian Real. While undoubtedly a downer for the manufacturing sector, a...

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Reviewing the New Brazilian President’s 1st Semester: Policy

Sure, federal governments run the postal service, a military that doesn’t have a lot to do, and a few social programs, but what the heck are they good for anyways, besides causing a lot of bickering in Congress? You’re not likely to find very good answers perusing the news. Look in any newspaper and you’ll see that headlines refer to conflict—the politics of policy make the news, not policy itself. Good policy analysis is difficult to find, which makes understanding what the heck goes on at the federal level a very difficult exercise...

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Reviewing the New Brazilian President’s 1st Semester: Politics

This past Wednesday night Dilma Rousseff threw a cocktail party to celebrate the end of her government’s first semester and the beggining of the National Legislature’s mid July break. According to LatinNews.com, 17 of 38 ministers made an appearance, as did the Presidents of both Chambers of Congress and the Vice President. The event began at 7:30, but by 9pm most invitees had already left. The lukewarm turnout and hasty departures reflect a palpable lack of enthusiasm for Rousseff’s performance after six months in power. To her...

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The Open Government Partnership–A New Direction for U.S. Foreign Policy?

The U.S. and more than 50 other countries met today to discuss a new international initiative to promote open government around the world, the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The aim is to create a multinational, multi-stakeholder compact to advance openness, accountability, transparency, and good government. The OGP is to be announced at the inauguration of the United Nations in September of this year. While the OGP appears to be a promising means of advancing the human condition, it immediately raises a few conceptual and methodological...

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Bolivia and its Lithium: The Next Saudi Arabia? (via The COHA Blog)

Bolivia and Brazil seem to have this conundrum in common: both are on the verge of massive mineral wealth– Brazil with oil, Bolivia with Lithium–and both are still emerging democracies with spotty, if not weak governmental institutions. A book by Terry Lynn Karl of Stanford University called “The Paradox of Plenty” does a noble job of explaining why countries with ample mineral wealth paradoxically tend to become refuges for corruption and inequality, a la Nigeria, Venezuela, Angola, Russia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and...

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The Costs of Rousseff’s Coalition Continue to Mount

The price of majority consensus in Congress is rising as the Rousseff administration muddles through yet another ugly compromise with allies. Over the past week, the magazine Veja broke a story about how political bosses within the Ministry of Transport have siphoned-off large amounts of cash, approximately 4 to 5 percent of total funds earmarked for projects. The Minister of Transport, Alfredo Nascimento, is not from Rousseff’s PT party, instead he represents the PR, an important coalition ally in Congress. Leadership Lacunae When...

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