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Posts Tagged ‘brazil

[LINK] “Colonies Turned Creditors”

I came across a brief article at Ozy by Pooja Bhatia noting that prosperity in former colonies is leading to the reversal of traditional patterns of post-colonial dominance. The effect is perhaps biggest in the case of Portugal, which is the smallest and poorest of the former imperial powers and has (in Brazil and Angola) larger and richer colonies. Spain, too, is noteworthy: Spanish-speaking America is much more populous than Spain, and has in aggregate a bigger economy.

In recent years, investors from Angola, former colony of Portugal, have bought significant chunks of Portuguese companies. Spanish officials are urging their counterparts in South and Latin America to come invest — never mind the conquest. And an exodus of bright young Portuguese is seeking opportunity abroad — often in erstwhile Portuguese colonies like Brazil, Angola and even East Timor.

It’s a significant reversal from decades past, when former colonies went begging their former masters for investment, aid and trade preferences, while stomaching the brain drain of their best-educated graduates. Now the roles have reversed, at least in some quarters. Some former colonies have become emerging markets, logging fast rates of growth, while the erstwhile imperialists are scrambling to stay afloat in the global recession.

Nowhere has the reversal been as dramatic as in Portugal and Angola. The former colonizer expects its economy will shrink 1.8 percent this year, while Angola, fat on diamonds and oil and Chinese love, grew nearly 12 percent annually from 2002 to 2011.

To be sure, the phenomenon is neither widespread nor particularly thoroughgoing. The Democratic Republic of Congo remains mired in terrible conflict, while its former overlord, Belgium, enjoys relative peace and absolute wealth. And for all the Indians snapping up real estate in the United Kingdom, hundreds of millions of Indians still struggle well below the poverty line. Angola’s riches, meanwhile, are concentrated among a handful of oligarchs, including the daughter of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who is worth some $3 billion. (She’s got a half-billion-dollar chunk of a Portuguese media company.) Moreover, the country’s relationship with Portugal got testy just last month, with dos Santos complaining that Europeans were casting aspersions on the ethics of Angolan investors.

But nowhere are northern countries’ woes on better display than in the reversal of migration patterns. Migrants tend to vote with their feet. Since widespread decolonization in the mid-1950s, they’ve tended to stream from global south to global north, often to the imperial motherland. After India’s independence from Britain, for instance, Indians tended to immigrate to “Commonwealth” countries, for instance, while Haitians often went to Francophone ones like France, French-speaking Canada or Belgium, and Angolans headed for Portugal.

The flow appears to be reversing — at least in Portugal and perhaps in other places. Since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, young Portuguese have been streaming not only to wealthier European countries but also to former Portuguese colonies like East Timor, Brazil and Angola.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 25, 2014 at 7:34 pm

[LINK] “Argentina Once More on the Map, Invited by BRICS”

Fabiana Frayssinet’s Inter Press Service article suggesting that Argentina might join the BRICS club of emerging economies caught my attention. I wonder if it will actually change much, mind, apart from being a signal of the country’s reintegration with the global financial network. Noel?

As Argentina starts to mend fences with the international financial markets, the emerging powers that make up the BRICS bloc invited it to their next summit. This could be a step towards this country’s reinsertion in the global map, after its ostracism from the credit markets since the late 2001 debt default.

For now, there is no letter “A” in the BRICS acronym, which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. But in Buenos Aires speculation is rife about whether it should be called BRICSA, ABRICS or BRICAS, if Argentina is admitted.

The invitation for President Cristina Fernández to participate in the group’s sixth summit, scheduled for Jul. 15 in the northeast Brazilian city of Fortaleza, is seen as another sign that Latin America’s third-largest economy may be incorporated, after India, Brazil and South Africa indicated their interest.

[. . .]

The formal invitation to Fernández was issued by Russia, which also thus confirmed its support.

“I think this shows that Argentina is fully inserted in international relations, not ‘isolated from the world’,” Nicolás Tereschuk, a political scientist at UBA, told IPS. “It simply doesn’t toe the line with the policies of the central countries at just any cost or in any circumstances, as it used to do at other times in its history.”

Argentina’s invitation from BRICS came almost simultaneously with the May 28 announcement of an agreement reached by the Fernández administration and the Paris Club, which this country owed 9.7 billion dollars since the default 13 years ago.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 24, 2014 at 7:27 pm

[NEWS] Some Monday links

  • Al Jazeera notes the inequitable terms of a trade agreement between the European Union and West Africa, observes that so far north Kazakhstan isn’t vulnerable to Russian irredentism in the same way as east Ukraine, explores the Northern Gateway pipeline controversy, detects Kurdish-Turkmen tension in the city of Kirkuk, and looks at the Japanese-Brazilian community.
  • The Atlantic explains why poor American women increasingly don’t wait for marriage or even relationships to become parents (what else do they have to do?) and notes the successful treatment of a mentally ill bonobo.
  • BusinessWeek notes that authors of best-sellers tend to be successful American presidential candidates, comments on potential problems of Russia’s South Stream pipeline project in Serbia, and notes that more airlines are cutting service to a Venezuela that doesn’t want to pay their costs in scarce American dollars.
  • CBC notes that Scottish independence could cause change in the flag of the United Kingdom, observes the beginning of peace talks in eastern Ukraine, notes the contamination of a salmon river in eastern Quebec by a municipal dump.
  • MacLean’s examines the collapse of the Iraqi military, looks at the psychology of online abusers, and explains the import of some archeological discoveries in Yukon.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • James Bow mourns the loss of the Northlander train route connecting northern Ontario with the south.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a Saudi Arabian announcement that it will be boosting military spending by 20%.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World blog notes growing Brazilian confidence in the outcome of the World Cup.
  • At A Fistful of Euros, Alex Harrowell notes the complexities of governance and procedure in the European Parliament.
  • Language Hat notes the long and changing history of ethnic identity in the Crimean peninsula.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair notes from first-hand experience the complex language and script situation in Macau and Hong Kong.
  • The New APPS Blog features suggestions for institutional reform in the European Union.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that, to ingratiate itself with the European Union, Albania won’t accept transit fees for the impending Trans-Adriatic pipeline.
  • Spacing Toronto remembers the time when Toronto’s subway network was the best in North America.
  • Strange Maps’ Frank Jacobs notes how a steamship disaster helped erase the Manhattan neighbourhood of Little Germany from the map of New York City.
  • Torontoist fact-checks an Olivia Chow speech, finding it boringly accurate and unambitious.
  • Towleroad notes how a Dutch town proposed setting up a gay ghetto to call out local homophobia.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how Ukrainian Orthodox Christian leaders are rejecting the Russian church’s authority, and observes that the Ukrainian government is now demanding that ethnic Ukrainians in Russia receive good treatment as an ethnic minority.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO comes up with a shortlist of some of the most noteworthy Giorgio Mammoliti controversies.
  • Centauri Dreams has a couple of posts (1, 2) talking about how nice it would be to have space probes orbiting the ice giants of Uranus and Neptune.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to an analysis suggesting that Russia is going to annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia to punish Georgia.
  • Language Log tackles a myth that vocal fry is caused by stress.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the superexploitation associated with prison labour.
  • Steve Munro notes the latest delays with reopening Queens Quay to streetcars.
  • The Search has a fascinating interview regarding what it takes to archive electronic art, including video and programs.
  • Torontoist shares photos of the Monday night storm.
  • Towleroad notes the story of two Texas gay fathers who not only weren’t allowed to cross-adopt the other’s biological son (each father having one child, both children product of the same egg donor), but who weren’t registered as the fathers of their own biological child.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that up to a quarter-million people were displaced in Brazil to make way for the World Cup.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the weakness of Russian liberalism.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • The Dragon’s Gaze examines the very complicated history of the formation of the trinary system of Fomalhaut.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a report on the study claiming to find chemical evidence of the impact that created the Moon out of moon rocks.
  • Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that no plausible American intervention could have prevented the fall of Mosul to ISIS.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen notes the predictions of economists that Brazil will win the World Cup.
  • Out of Ambit’s Diane Duane shares a photo of people scavenging from a hundred thousand books dumped out of a bankrupt bookstore in Ireland.
  • Livejournaler pollotenchegg maps fertility rates in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
  • The Transit Toronto blog notes the arrest of a half-dozen TTC workers on charges of embezzling from their organization.
  • Towleroad notes opposite-sex married but bisexual Anna Paquin’s Twitter posting for pride.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s David Bernstein takes issue with the idea that Jewish Republicans are rare. (Representation is, as a consequence of their distribution.)
  • Window on Eurasia links to an analyst’s concern that the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine, currently seeing fighting, might end up becoming alienated from the rest of Ukraine on the model of Northern Ireland.

[LINK] “Why Wal-Mart Hasn’t Conquered Brazil”

Renee Dudley, Christiana Sciaudone, and Jessica Brice argue that WalMart is doing worse than expected in Brazil because its lowest-price model doesn’t fit Brazilian shopping patterns. This after the chain has ended its ventures in Germany, South Korea, and India, and even faces serious problems in China on top of a slowing American market.

When asked where she does her shopping, Ivanira de Pontes Duarte, a 51-year-old maid in São Paulo, says it depends on what she’s looking for. If she needs olive oil, a small shop in the middle of her two-hour commute is her go-to spot. Hypermarket chain Extra, a unit of France’s Casino Guichard-Perrachon (CO:FP), has the best deals on cleaning supplies, but only on Wednesdays, when they’re on sale. And a local street fair is where she finds the cheapest produce. One place the store-hopper hasn’t tried is Walmart. “I’ve seen their ads on TV, and their prices don’t seem that much better than everyone else’s,” she says. “It’s a question of savings. Most Brazilians don’t make very much and we need to save where we can.”

[. . .]

Wal-Mart executives have said the company needs to more clearly explain its pricing to Brazilian shoppers eager to stretch paychecks that average about $900 a month. Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon, who ran the international division for five years, acknowledged at an October analysts’ meeting that “we’re not making the most” of Brazil, where the company has had four local CEOs in a decade.

Better communication is probably beside the point, says Thales Teixeira, a Harvard Business School professor, because Brazilians will shop at several stores if that’s what it takes to get the lowest prices. “They’re cherry-picking the promotions. They care more about that and less about Wal-Mart’s one-stop shopping convenience,” says Teixeira, who grew up in Brasilia. “At Wal-Mart, they’re finding a fair price for their basket, but it’s not necessarily the lowest price for all the items in it.”

Sticking with the everyday low price strategy is hurting the company, says Richard Cathcart, a retail analyst at Banco Espirito Santo de Investimento in São Paulo. The hyperinflation of the 1980s that once drove Brazilians to stock up at large stores such as Wal-Mart’s no longer exists. “People would get paid, and then they would go to the hypermarket and buy as much as they could for the whole month—that is not the situation anymore,” Cathcart says. “You either have to bring people in by changing their culture and the way they like to shop or you’re stuck.”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 13, 2014 at 2:03 am

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster visits depictions of Europa in classic science fiction.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper claiming that whether a planet of Earth’s mass becomes Earth-like or a mini-Neptune depends not so much on the planet as on the characteristics of its nebula.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes archeological analyses which suggest that Neanderthals were just as technologically capable of Homo sapiens.
  • Joe. My. God. quotes from ex-ex-gay John Paulk, who describes the factors that led him to flirt with the ex-gay movement.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair doesn’t think Putonghua will become a world language because of its script. (Me, I think that’s decidedly secondary.)
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money starts a discussion on nuclear waste that’s a bit too panicky for my liking.
  • The Power and the Money notes that southern Brazil, like Argentina and Uruguay experienced sharp relative economic decline in the 20th century. This regional decline got missed in national statistics.
  • Strange Maps’ Frank Jacobs wonders why so many towns in the American South–especially Georgia–seem to be circular.
  • Towleroad notes that prominent Russian homophobe and politician Vitaly Milonov is calling on Russia to abandon Eurovision on account of its queer associations.
  • Transit Toronto notes a proposal to connect Toronto to London and Kitchener-Waterloo via high-speed train.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the Russian private sector is being undermined and notes that Russians don’t travel all that much.

[LINK] “The beginning of the end of Venecuba was in 2007″

Over at The Power and the Money, Noel Maurer analyzes the failure of radical-left Venezuela and Cuba to federate. The possibility was widely discussed at the time; I made mention of it back in 2006. It turns out that the high-water mark was in 2007.

The more qualitative reports of Cuban officials operating inside the Venezuelan state are harder to measure. But it should be noted that the U.S. was worried about Cuban influence in the foreign ministry and the Cuban presence in Venezuelan ports in 2008. Juan José Rabilero, the coordinator of Cuba’s Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, boasted, “We have over 30,000 members of Cuba’s Committees for the Defence of the Revolution in Venezuela” … in 2007.

In short, the Cuban-Venezuelan relationship reached its peak around 2007-08. That is not to say that the relationship isn’t an astoundingly tight one. It is. It is to say that it hasn’t gotten much tighter since ‘08.

The second thing to note about Venecuba is that there was a lot of talk of deeper union in 2007. The State Department noted this in an internal cable. The political benefits of greater institutionalization were obvious. It would secure Cuba’s access to Venezuelan resources and make it easier for President Chávez to call on Cuban support to help him cement his control over Venezuela.

[. . .]

So what happened? One possibility is that plans to institutionalize the Venecuban links were just hot air. That was true of a lot of Hugo Chávez’s initiatives.

But that isn’t what happened. What happened was that Chávez put the possibility of a federation before the Venezuelan people in 2007 and got beat at the ballot box. Here’s the story. Chávez proposed a series of constitutional amendments to the National Assembly in 2007. In the Assembly, his party added a series of additional amendments. (This almost certainly occured under the supervision of the executive branch.) Among them were reforms to Articles 152 and 153.

The reforms failed to promote a Latin American federalism. I would note that, since then, Venezuela has seemed to focus on other Caribbean and South American integration productions, joining the Brazil-dominated Mercosur and aligning with smaller middle American states as a patron.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 22, 2014 at 7:34 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • At The Dragon’s Tales, Will Baird reports that Sweden and Finland, spooked by Crimea, are now contemplating NATO membership.
  • On a very different note, The Dragon’s Tales also notes that Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, with a Europa-like ocean underneath, is perfectly suited for a space mission.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that workers are dying on World Cup construction sites in Brazil as well as in Qatar.
  • At the Planetary Society Blog, Emily Lakdawalla notes the very recent discovery of Kuiper belt object 2013 FY27, big enough to be a dwarf planet.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy links to a profile of the blog and its blogger in Tablet magazine.
  • Window on Eurasia has a series of links. One argues that Russia’s weakness not its strength motivated the move into Crimea, another argues that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a catastrophe and that the Russian government knows it, another observes Belarus’ alienation from federation with Russia.

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