News / Americas

Brazil Enters Recession in Pre-election Blow to Rousseff

Presidential candidate and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff of Workers' Party (PT) speaks during the first television debate at the Bandeirantes TV studio in Sao Paulo, Aug. 26, 2014.
Presidential candidate and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff of Workers' Party (PT) speaks during the first television debate at the Bandeirantes TV studio in Sao Paulo, Aug. 26, 2014.
Reuters

Brazil suffered a recession in the first half of the year as investment plunged and the country's hosting of the World Cup suffocated economic activity, a major blow to President Dilma Rousseff's already diminishing hopes for reelection in October.

Latin America's largest economy has suffered stagnant growth for more than three years under Rousseff's left-leaning policies, which have dented consumer and business confidence and caused heavy losses for financial investors.

People look at a list of job offers posted in a main street in downtown Sao Paulo, Aug. 13, 2014.People look at a list of job offers posted in a main street in downtown Sao Paulo, Aug. 13, 2014.
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People look at a list of job offers posted in a main street in downtown Sao Paulo, Aug. 13, 2014.
People look at a list of job offers posted in a main street in downtown Sao Paulo, Aug. 13, 2014.

The economy took an even bigger downturn in the second quarter, contracting 0.6 percent from the first quarter, according to government statistics agency IBGE. The agency also revised down its estimate for first quarter activity to a 0.2 percent contraction, meaning the economy entered a recession.

News of the recession, Brazil's first since the global financial crisis of 2008-09, will give a powerful weapon to Rousseff's opponents in the Oct. 5 election at precisely the moment that her candidacy is at its most vulnerable.

Polls over the last week have shown Rousseff falling behind centrist candidate Marina Silva in the event of a second-round runoff, which appears likely. Silva and the other main candidate, Senator Aecio Neves, have hammered Rousseff for being weak on inflation and ruining the economic momentum that made Brazil a Wall Street darling last decade.

Civil construction and manufacturing especially suffered during the second quarter, data showed. Brazil hosted the World Cup in June and July, which caused a slowdown at many factories and retailers as cities declared public holidays on game days to prevent logistical problems such as heavy traffic.

Yet economists said Brazil's problems go beyond any short-term considerations such as the Cup. They blamed government policies that have relied too much on stimulating domestic demand while failing to attract investment.

They said the data underscored that the next president - whoever it may be - would need to undertake deep reforms.

“The recovery from here will be slight,” said Eduardo Velho, chief economist at INVX Global, an investment fund in Sao Paulo. “We need a new economic program based on fiscal tightening, monetary flexibility, and improvements in productivity.”

Investment plummeted 5.3 percent in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter, its worst performance since early 2009. Industry also suffered its fourth straight quarterly decline, down 1.5 percent.

Following the data, some economists said they would revise down their forecasts for full-year economic growth to zero.

Rousseff has blamed the slowdown on continued economic weakness abroad, such as in Southern Europe.

The second quarter contraction was worse than expectations of a 0.4 percent contraction, according to the median forecast of 47 analysts polled by Reuters.  

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Comment on this forum (1)
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by: Not Again from: Canada
August 29, 2014 2:56 PM
Socialist policies, bordering on comunism, have never produced any good economic results. Rousseff's Brazil had very much aligned itself with the other downward spiralling socialist, like Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia.... all of them very much in an economic failure mode; and courting the likes of Iran and Russia, makes investors really run away. Who would invest any money? in countries that do not respect private property, nor do they provide clear gurantees on investments and corporate security.
Many of the Latin American countries' leaders are stuck in the era of Fidel and Che, whom they romanticize and somehow see as having provided for a path of economic self sustenance an a better future for their people, none of it occurred, it is a myth that grows amongst South American leftists.
One of the worse sitiations observed, as of late, is Chile; once a country that was an economic beacon of development and meeting the needs of its people, now with Bachelet once again at the helm, she is leading the contry into the usual socialist downward spiral; Chile is rapidly sinking into the state it was during the Allende years 50+ years ago; soon it will be like Venezuela.
Brazil will be better if it provides a good climate for investors, and people get back to work; given the massive numbers of young people in Brazil, if its economy is not set on a solid growth path of 8%+ growth, Brazil will become a destabilized broken country; already law and order/security are near collapse in many parts of the country, especially the big cities, and bandits once again roam the countryside and its highways.
Maybe Silva will set a new course for Brazil, out of its troubling economic downturn, it will be very challenging, because the downward spiral has a significant amount of negative momentum; many policies and controls will need to be rescinded or changed, very tough days ahead can be predicted for Brazil.

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