Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

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Showing posts for "Brazil"

A Runoff for Brazil’s Rousseff and Neves

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazil presidential elections 2014 Brazil's presidential candidates Aecio Neves (R) of Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) and Dilma Rousseff of Workers Party (PT) take part in a TV debate in Rio de Janeiro October 2, 2014. Brazil will be be holding its general elections on October 5, to elect the country's National Congress, president, state governors and state legislatures (Ricardo Moraes/Courtesy Reuters).

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff won the first–round of the 2014 presidential election yesterday with almost 42 percent of the vote. The real surprise of the contest, however, came in Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) nominee Aecio Neves’s impressive second place finish, capturing a third of voters and surpassing Marina Silva of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB). Although Neves’s polling numbers had risen in the election lead–up, few expected such a strong showing. Read more »

South-South Trade and Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
South-south trade, developing south trade, inter-industry trade, Latin America, exports, intermediary goods Workers harvest soy in a farm during a demonstration of harvest machines in Correntina, Bahia March 31, 2010. Brazil's 2009/10 soybean production is estimated to be 67.5 million tonnes (Paulo Whitaker/Courtesy Reuters).

The economic rise of the developing south is one of the biggest trends of the last decade, accelerated by the 2008 global economic downturn. Since 2001 trade between these countries has grown 18 percent a year on average, outpacing global trade growth of 11 percent. Nearly half of all exports worldwide now originate in emerging markets—predominantly Asia. Read more »

Lights Out: Brazil’s Power Problem

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A view of the Itaipu Hydroelectric dam, the world's largest operational electricity generator, on the Brazilian side of the border with Paraguay, in Foz do Iguacu in this 2005 file photo. A major electricity outage at the dam left tens of millions of people in Brazil's two largest cities of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro without power on November 10, 2009, according to the Brazilian director of the Itaipu dam (Rickey Rogers/Courtesy Reuters). A view of the Itaipu Hydroelectric dam, the world's largest operational electricity generator, on the Brazilian side of the border with Paraguay, in Foz do Iguacu in this 2005 file photo. A major electricity outage at the dam left tens of millions of people in Brazil's two largest cities of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro without power on November 10, 2009, according to the Brazilian director of the Itaipu dam (Rickey Rogers/Courtesy Reuters).

With the World Cup over, Brazilians are turning to their next big event—October’s presidential elections. While President Dilma Rousseff still leads in the polls, her margins continue to shrink. A recent Datafolha poll puts Rousseff and Aecio Neves—her leading challenger—as statistically tied in a hypothetical second round. Read more »

Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America Holds Steady in 2013

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Robots weld cars at the Ford Motor Company's Sao Bernardo do Campo facility in Sao Bernardo do Campo, June 14, 2012 (Paulo Whitaker/Courtesy Reuters). Robots weld cars at the Ford Motor Company's Sao Bernardo do Campo facility in Sao Bernardo do Campo, June 14, 2012 (Paulo Whitaker/Courtesy Reuters).

In 2013, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Latin America reached $185 billion according to the latest ECLAC report, continuing the slight upward trend of the last three years. Brazil maintained its number one position as the largest FDI destination, raking in $64 billion (over one third of all regional FDI). Mexico came in second, with some $38 billion (boosted by the $13 billion purchase of the rest of Modelo by Belgian based Anheuser-Busch InBev, a company run by Brazilians). Mexico’s Pacific Alliance partners—Chile, Colombia, Peru—also had a fruitful year, with a combined $47 billion in investment. And despite its economic woes, Argentina garnered $9 billion. Read more »

Will the World Cup Actually Help Brazil to Solve Its Problems?

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Residents run to celebrate after decorating a street in the colours of Brazil’s national flag, ahead of the 2014 World Cup, in the Taguatinga neighbourhood of Brasilia, June 8, 2014 (Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters). Residents run to celebrate after decorating a street in the colours of Brazil’s national flag, ahead of the 2014 World Cup, in the Taguatinga neighbourhood of Brasilia, June 8, 2014 (Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters).

In the lead-up to the World Cup and through the first games, Brazilians have taken to the streets in protest. In this post for Daniel Altman on ForeignPolicy.com, I look at why these demands for change could help Brazil overcome its many domestic problems. The post begins: Read more »

S&P’s Brazil Downgrade: Why it Matters

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff reacts during the signing ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro's international airport concession in Rio de Janeiro, April 2, 2014 (Ricardo Moraes/Courtesy Reuters). Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff reacts during the signing ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro's international airport concession in Rio de Janeiro, April 2, 2014 (Ricardo Moraes/Courtesy Reuters).

In a widely expected move, the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) downgraded Brazil’s long term debt from a credit ranking of BBB to BBB- on March 24, bringing the country’s sovereign bonds a step closer to losing their “investment grade status” (defined as BBB- or above) and becoming “speculative” or “junk bonds.” The rating stems from a combination of indicators—including GDP growth, inflation, and external debt—that S&P uses to measure a country’s creditworthiness and its fiscal, regulatory, and political risks. Read more »

This Year’s Presidential Elections in Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Voters wait in line to cast their vote in a presidential election runoff at a polling station outside in San Salvador March 9, 2014 (Henry Romero/Courtesy Reuters). Voters wait in line to cast their vote in a presidential election runoff at a polling station outside in San Salvador March 9, 2014 (Henry Romero/Courtesy Reuters).

Earlier this week, Salvadorans headed to the polls to cast their ballots in a presidential runoff election, since on February 2 the candidates failed to reach the 50 percent threshold to avoid a second round. In the runoff’s lead up, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a former guerrilla commander and the current vice president from the ruling party, looked poised for an easy win over his closest opponent Norman Quijano from the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). But with the final ballot count separating the candidates by some 0.2 percent of the votes and with allegations of fraud, it seems that the protests and debates surrounding this election are far from over. Read more »

Public Education in Brazil

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A Brazilian citizen, living in Mexico, holds a poster during a demonstration in Mexico City June 18, 2013, in solidarity with a protest movement against poor public services, police violence and government corruption in Brazil (Edgard Garrido/Courtesy Reuters). A Brazilian citizen, living in Mexico, holds a poster during a demonstration in Mexico City June 18, 2013, in solidarity with a protest movement against poor public services, police violence and government corruption in Brazil (Edgard Garrido/Courtesy Reuters).

When people talk about what holds Brazil back, education tops the list (along with infrastructure). The poor quality of Brazil’s public education system limits students’ capabilities and adaptability, creates mismatches between workers’ skills and companies’ needs, and stifles productivity and entrepreneurship. These limits affect the entire economy—hampering economic growth, competitiveness, research & development, and even oil production (as Petrobras has struggled to find skilled workers for its pre-salt finds). Read more »

Brazil’s Pre-Salt Oil Six Years Later

by Shannon K. O'Neil
An aerial view of the final stage of the construction of new P-56 semi-submersible production platform for the oil company Petrobas at the Brasfels shipyard in Angra dos Reis, about 115 miles (185 km) west of Rio de Janeiro February 24, 2011 (Sergio Moraes/Courtesy Reuters). An aerial view of the final stage of the construction of new P-56 semi-submersible production platform for the oil company Petrobas at the Brasfels shipyard in Angra dos Reis, about 115 miles (185 km) west of Rio de Janeiro February 24, 2011 (Sergio Moraes/Courtesy Reuters).

In 2007, Petrobras engineers struck black gold, discovering vast oil reserves in the deep-water off the Brazilian coast and permanently altering not only Brazil’s energy landscape but the country’s economic and political fortunes. Immediate surveys predicted that some 80 billion barrels were trapped in these pre-salt reserves (named after the rock layer they are located in), a number so high that then-President Lula declared the find as proof that “God is Brazilian.” Read more »

Dilma Rousseff’s Tenure Three Years On

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff reacts during a press statement after a meeting at the 6th European Union (EU)-Brazil summit at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia January 24, 2013 (Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters). Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff reacts during a press statement after a meeting at the 6th European Union (EU)-Brazil summit at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia January 24, 2013 (Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters).

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is gearing up for her reelection bid this week, attending political rallies and drumming up support by appearing with former President Lula. As she hits the campaign trail, over the next year she will be campaigning on—or alternatively explaining—her last three years in office. So what has Rousseff accomplished during her time at Brazil’s helm? The results are, in my view, mixed. Read more »