What now for Brazil? The next BRIC to fall?

In partnership with Canning House

January 14 2015


  • Lucas de Aragao (Arko Advice)

  • Jonathan Wheatley (FT)

  • Andrew Whitley (Elders' Foundation)


So, Dilma Rousseff won – and Marina Silva was consigned to the all-world might-have-been lists of unlucky losers.  Along, of course, with Aécio Neves – who gave Ms Rousseff a closer run for her money than many expected.

But what now?  To some surprise, Ms Rousseff appears to have learned something from her narrow squeak.  The new Finance Minister, Joaquim Levy, seems like good news to most foreign investors – as was the decision to keep Alexander Tombini at the CB and to appoint veteran Nelson Barbosa to head the Budget Ministry.  However, to what extent is this really more than a cosmetic exercise?  To what extent has the PT really changed its spots?

And, of course, what impact will the fall in the oil price have?  On the one hand, Brazil is a major oil importer, and lower oil prices must give consumers a boost.  On the other hand, Brazil is committed (over-committed?) to high-cost ethanol and to (even higher-cost) deep-water drilling programmes.  It is unclear (to me, at least) whether, net/net, lower oil prices are good or bad for Brazil – and I think that is reflected in projections for the economy over the next few years.

Under these circumstances, I am delighted that (together with our friends at Canning House), we have been able to put together a panel to discuss what has, since the Year Dot, been seen as the ‘country of tomorrow’:

  • Lucas de Aragão is a partner in and director of Arko Advice, a political advisory and public relations group based in Brasilia that did work on Marina’s recent Presidential bid.  It is recognised as one of Brazil’s most influential consulting firms, with clients in the financial services and energy fields.  Mr de Aragão also manages the firm’s relationship with the EU Brazil Association, in Brussels.
  • Jonathan Wheatley is deputy emerging markets editor at the FT, and a former Brazil correspondent for the newspaper.  He lived in Brazil from 1992 to 2011, writing for the FT, Business Week, the EIU and others.
  • Andrew Whitley is policy and advocacy director at The Elders Foundation, the conflict resolution organisation founded by Nelson Mandela. He previously served for 16 years as a senior UN development official (including working with Rubens Ricupero at UNCTAD), and before that worked as a journalist for the BBC and FT (setting up the latter’s Brazil staff bureau in 1981).

What happens in Brazil matters – and not just to the rest of Latin America.