Category Archives: Economy

Brazil in numbers

From  useful to futile, numbers that help explaining the country.

  • 43% of adults that live in state capitals are overweight.
  • Those who have access to the internet spent 2.8 days connected in the month of September.
  • 9% of the kids born in 2008 were not registered.
  • 473 million reais ( 256.6 million dollars or 184.5 million euros) were collected by the government of the city of São Paulo thanks to driving and parking tickets. 99% of the Brazilian cities have budgets lower than that.
  • 57% of the inhabitants of the city of São Paulo would like to move away (Is this related to the previous number? Maybe).
  • Brazil is the 88th country in the education ranking produced by Unesco. Paraguay and Bolivia are in better shape.
  • 1 in 5 Brazilians that have a formal job works for the public service.
  • President Lula spent 87 days abroad in 2009 – a personal record.
  • 9 in 10 Brazilians have a cell phone.
  • 500 million reais (271.3 million dollars or 195 million euros) will be spent to fix up Maracanã stadium, in Rio, for the 2014 World Soccer Cup.
  • The Brazilian delegation to the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen last December had 743 members. It was three times bigger than the American delegation.
  • 1819 houses and buildings at Brazilian roadsides have been used for child prostitution. It’s one every 27 kilometers.

Source: recent editions of Veja magazine

Minimum wage = coffee + bread

Since the first day of the year, the Brazilian minimum wage is 510 reais (the equivalent of 283 dollars or 201 euros). Why 510 and not 500 or 520? Is this enough for a minimally descent life?
Today I got a fascinating (and simple) explanation on how the government might have come up with this number  from Brazilian blog Vida Depois dos 50. It quotes Pasquim, a satirical newspaper from Rio that fought conservatism and dictatorship in the 70s. The guys of Pasquim found some forty years ago the  formula that explained (tragicomically)  how the value of the minimum wage was established. A formula that is still valid today.
According to Pasquim, at that time: Continue reading Minimum wage = coffee + bread

Brazil will pay high price for climate change

Storm over São Paulo/Fabiano (LycoSp)/Flickr

Brazil will lose between US$ 417 billion (in an optimist scenario) and US$ 2 trillion of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year by 2050 thanks to global warming. This means, in the worst scenario, the GDP might be reduced in 2.3% by the middle of the century. This is one of the scary conclusions of a report just released by several Brazilian universities and the main specialists in climate and agriculture of the country. They worked for two years in a document that evaluates the possible impacts of the raising temperatures and climate instability. “It is like wasting a whole year of growth during the next 40 years”, says the study.

Among their main conclusions:

  • The temperature may rise 8°C (46.4°F) by 2100 in the Amazon region and it may undergo a radical transformation, becoming more like a savanna. The south, the southeast and the east parts of the basin might lose 40% of their forests.
  • The Northeast of the country (including the states of Bahia and Pernambuco) are also very vulnerable. Agriculture and cattle farming will have important losses because of the lack of rains in a region that is already very arid.
  • The hydro power dams – main responsible for the generation of electricity in the country – will be less reliable.
  • Agriculture shouldn’t have major problems in the southern states (including São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul).
  • Soy, corn and coffee production will have to reduce their cultivated areas (34%, 15% and 18%, respectively), while sugar cane plantations will not decline.
  • When the level of the oceans elevates and the weather gets more violent, the losses along the Brazilian coast should range from US$ 79 billion to US$ 120 billion.

The study stresses that the poorest regions of the country should be the most affected.It also lists a series of measures that could minimize those risks. Among them, incentives to alternative energies and carbon markets; investments in genetically improved plants, adapted to the growing droughts, and in improved irrigation techniques; and coastal management.

Besides the dark conclusions, the study is surprising because of the quality of the organizations involved. From Universidade de São Paulo and Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) to the World Bank and a few non-profits, such as the brilliant Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (Inpa).  It is the final proof that climate change and the environmental matters really are attracting the attention they deserve.