Brazil: Culturally Self-Possessed.

I admire Brazil most for its self-possession. Its culture is uniquely distinct and, as I will write about next entry, it even follows political and economic policy that is out-of-step with the dictates of first-world orthodoxy. For the most part, the country’s self-possession is accidental– it’s the sole Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas, and its large population and young median age allows its large market and wealth of human resources allows it to be more self-contained than other countries. One of the reasons...

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#4 Import taxes (i.e. tariffs)

The price of consumer durables in Brazil is more expensive than in any other large market in the world–hands down.  This does not seem to jive with the plight of the median Brazilian, who earns somewhere around $1000R ($600US) a month (minimum wage is about $550R a month. If anything, purchases of goods that can abet social and economic advancement, such as computers, should be subsidized. Yet Brazil’s tariffs average close to 30 percent on a number of items, items which are even exempted from the regional Mercosur tariff-reducing...

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Talking about inequality…

Today’s Jornal do Brasil reports  “47% of the GDP in only 1% of [the country’s] municipalities.” (page A17). Today, 40% of the nation’s poorest municipalities account for just 4.6% of the country’s GDP. Those are some figures to drown in. Inequality has obviously gotten worse, not better over time. In 1920, the figure for the richest 1 percent of municipalities was 21%, versus more than double, at 47% today. Brazil’s poor may have become richer in absolute terms, but so have the rich– much, much...

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Things I Could Live Without in Brazil

There are a lot of things I love about Brazil, such as the people, the uniqueness of its culture, and its natural beauty. This is a banal list of things that tourists appreciate about Brazil. But things are a lot different as a tourist than as a resident. When you’re living here, you begin to find things that grate against your sensibility.  There are several infuriating things about Brazil that I might as well get out in the next couple posts or so, right at the beginning of this blog. Being a political scientist, it’s hard not to...

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City of Figuras (Characters)

It has been just less than a week since we moved to Rio and we have lots of color to report.  The vivid characters are everywhere. There is the curmudgeonly furniture seller a few doors down who tried to sell us a desk. Then there’s our doormen. I could have sworn that I saw one of them in a Spaghetti Western, playing the role of a bad-guy Mexican. Out the door of our apartment building and across the street linger the neighborhood’s most devoted beer guzzlers– at the boteca (bar) that sits on the corner of Gomes Carneiro...

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The Move to Rio is Complete

My wife Carol and I just completed a move to Rio from Belo Horizonte, which we managed to accomplish in one car load and one bus load. Carol's working as a Project Manager on the Petrobras building, charged with making sure the façade goes up expeditiously. I´ll be teaching, writing and looking for opportunities in this lovely, complicated, and exciting part of Brazil. "Lovely" is clearly the obvious adjective, and "exciting" sums up recent developments reinvigorating the city. Principally, I speak of the Brazilian economic boom ...

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